– notes, frequently asked questions and useful links from the archivist and curator of manuscripts at Balliol College, University of Oxford. Opinions expressed are the author's own.

Foliation vs Pagination

Q: Hi there
It’s really amazing that this MS is available so easily online! Thank you so much for digitising it like this. My only problem is that references to it are often made by folio number rather than the page numbers you have given to it, making it very time consuming finding the right image. Not sure if you can do anything about that now, but perhaps if you digitise other MSs you could consider how people might want to search and how the MS is usually referenced.


Thank you for your comment re pagination of this MS. I am well aware of the pagination vs foliation issue. You will see from the numerous other MSS I have posted online that nearly all are foliated rather than paginated, and that my numbering of filenames reflects this (f.191r, f191v, etc). This MS is a deliberate exception; I have preserved the page numbering from the original online posting of this manuscript’s images on image.ox.ac.uk, which has been there since the late 1990s and much consulted. I suspect the pagination method was chosen (probably by RAB Mynors, who wrote the catalogue of Balliol’s medieval and early modern manuscripts in the 1960s) because of the first non-existent and then conflicting foliation in the first 20 or so pages; the numbering is at least a clear single sequence.  Citations should include both systems, for the majority of folios where both exist. They often don’t include either, never mind both, and they are often cited incorrectly.

For later folios, it is not difficult to cross-refer between the two systems – to find the page number, double the folio number and add three for the recto or four for the verso, and vice versa to find the folio number from a given page number.

NB Some scholars have used their own numbering systems in secondary literature, and the above formula may not work for those. It’s a pity there is such a long history of confusion, and ironic that it happens in such a heavily consulted manuscript – most of our manuscripts have had straightforward foliation for centuries!

Now, of course, you can also download the whole set of images and rename the files any way you like.

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