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exercise book

The Oxford Companion to the Book

exercise book 

Throughout the 19th century, into the 1890s, the main sense of the term ‘exercise book’ was of a printed schoolbook containing exercises to be worked in a specific subject, such as Latin or arithmetic. Exercise books in what is now the more usual sense of *blank books—intended for schoolchildren writing notes, exercises, and essays—exist, however, from the mid-18th century. The George Washington papers included unlined exercise books, termed ‘school copy books’ and containing exercises in arithmetic, geometry, and surveying, from 1745. Exercise books are normally *quarto in size (approximately 21.5×17 cm) and are soft-covered. They contain between 32 and c.450 pages. The smaller sizes are stapled rather than bound. Depending on their country of origin, exercise books may be squared (French and German) or lined (English and English-speaking countries). Less commonly, they are *interleaved (botany books) or are lined unevenly for small children practising writing, to write between narrow lines set between wider spaces. Although exercise books are aimed at schoolchildren, nothing precludes adults from using them for the same purpose as any other blank book; indeed, some exercise books are the repositories of significant literary MSS (e.g. by Conan Doyle).

Karen Attar