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In my Master's thesis, I use scrbook and start every chapter on odd pages. Now both my table of contents and list of figures span exactly two pages. My question is therefore more related to style and "best practices" than to the technical implementation:

Would you recommend starting the table of contents and list of figures on an even or odd page?

On the one hand, it is consistent with the whole document to start both of them on an odd page. I think it is also what the reader expects: every new chapter (or listing) starts on the odd, i.e., right page.

On the other hand, listings exist for the purpose to provide an overview and should not be split over several (double) pages. Therefore, it can be beneficial to start them on even pages, because the reader does not need to turn the page to see the whole listing.

I was wondering whether there are any style guidelines that make a concrete statement about this problem. I had a look into different books and noticed they usually start their table of contents on odd pages, but they also span more than two pages (hence they could not be fit into one double page anyways).

Any information on this topic is appreciated.

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Most style guides I've seen will say: start them on a recto (or combine them all into a continuous set that starts on a recto, which won't matter in your case) unless there is a pretty good reason not to. I recommend you look at 'Hart's New Rules': it is short, clear, and sane. But the 'Chicago Manual of Style' will say something similar on this score (if(!) memory serves). – jon Jun 22 '12 at 7:51
It depends on your location. I know a lot of books which prefer your second approach. – Marco Daniel Jun 22 '12 at 16:53

If you skim through a book the recto pages are much more prominent (in left-to-right typesetting). As a TOC or LOF is a reference entry into the book content, it is important to find its starting point easily. For that reason most style guides recommend starting it on a recto page. Same concept for chapter openings and other major elements.

However, as you remarked correctly, starting a 2-page TOC on a recto means that you have to turn the page to see all of it which may make comparison on the level of the TOC more difficult. So this is something you need to decide how important it is to see the complete TOC.

It is not completely unknown that (to save space) the frontmatter is sometimes compressed and TOC, LOF, LOT etc all run into each other disobeying the typical "start on a recto" rule. But if you do this then I suggest you think of a good "filler" in front of TOC and and LOT, e.g., a nice half title + a picture ... personally I would probably stick to the recto start.

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