An exercise book or composition book is a notebook that is used in schools to copy down schoolwork and notes. A student will usually have a different exercise book for each separate lesson or subject.
The exercise book format is different for some subjects: for the majority of subjects, the exercise book will contain lined paper with a margin, but for other subjects such as mathematics, the exercise book will contain squared paper to aid in the drawing of graphs, tables or other diagrams.
Exercise books may act as a primary record of students' learning efforts. For younger pupils, books are often collected at the end of each lesson for review, scoring or grading. Loose worksheets may be pasted into the book so that they are bound with other work.
In some schools, exercise books may be colour-coded depending on the subject. For example, Biology might be green and Algebra blue.
The exercise book was also called version book historically, and is called khata in India, scribbler in Canada, and copy book in Ireland. The US equivalent is composition book, which traditionally has a distinctive cover pattern.
The traditional size of a school exercise book in Australia is 7 by 9 inches (180 mm × 230 mm), which may be approximated by B5 (176 × 250 mm). Larger A4 (previously foolscap) notebooks are also very commonly used.
The first numeral stands for the size:
The second numeral stands for the number of pages:
The third numeral stands for the ruling:
School exercise books in New Zealand generally conform to standard NZS 8132:1984 (Specification for school stationery). An alphanumeric code is used to describe the exercise book's binding, format and size.
The first numerals(s) refer to the binding:
The letter refers to the format:
The last numeral refers to the size:
Other sizes and number of sheets are permitted. The preferable sizes are (in mm): 210 x 297 (A4), 203 x 288, 203 x 275, 170 x 203, 148 x 210 (A5), 144 x 203.
"Thin" notebooks must be either ruled with 8 mm spacing between the lines, or graph-ruled with 5 mm or 7 mm squares. "Thick" notebooks must be either ruled with 6 mm, 7 mm, 8 mm, 9 mm spacing between the lines, or graph-ruled with 3 mm, 4 mm, 5 mm, 6 mm, or 7 mm squares.
The paper for cursive writing uses pairs of lines 4 mm apart, with 8 mm between the pairs. They may also have angled lines at 65 degrees to vertical to provide additional guidance.
The lines can have gray, blue, green or purple color. The vertical margin line must have red or orange color. Vertical margin is optional for graph-ruled notebooks.
There are three commonly used sizes of exercise book in the UK: A5 (148×210 mm), A4 (210×297 mm), and 178×229 mm (approximately 7″×9″, based on a traditional size used before the UK adopted ISO 216 paper sizes). They usually come with 32, 48, 64, or 80 pages which can be plain, ruled, or squared.
In the United States, exercise books used by writers and students are known as composition books. Typically, they have dimensions of 9 3⁄4 by 7 1⁄2 inches (250 mm × 190 mm) or 8 1⁄2 by 6 7⁄8 inches (220 mm × 170 mm) and 20, 40, 80 or 100 sheets.
The papers in a composition book often have the baseline and cap line printed in blue to aid writing, with a (sometimes red) vertical line for a margin on the left hand of every page. Traditionally, the inside back cover contains a table of the weights and measures of the English (imperial) system printed for reference; however, this feature has become less common in countries that have adopted the metric system. Sometimes a multiplication table, or grammar or punctuation tips, are also found on the inside back cover. The inside front cover typically has a place to put one's weekly class schedule.
Composition books are traditionally bound through the fold—that is, the pages are folded, and stitched vertically along the fold. This allows to open them completely flat, simplifying writing on the left side, and also makes them significantly more durable than loose leaf pads or spiral notebooks.
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