Many of the early manuals on how to print can be read online as digital facsimiles. Below is a list of some of the major ones; many of them contain diagrams of various impositions used in the period:
- Joseph Moxon’s Mechanick Exercises, or, The doctrine of handyworks applied to the art of printing (1683) via Boston Public Library
- Martin-Dominique Fertel’s La science pratique de l’imprimerie (1723) in Gallica, among other places
- Denis Diderot and Jean d’Alembert’s Encyclopédie (1751–1772) can be read in a number of options:
- John Smith’s The Printer’s Grammar (1775) isn’t online, but Philip Luckombe’s History and Art of Printing (1771) reprints part of Smith and is available (HathiTrust), as is T. Evans’s Concise History (1778) (HathiTrust)
- William Savage’s A Dictionary on the Art of Printing (1841) is from the early years of the machine-press era, but has a lot of information and format depictions that are helpful if you really want to get into the weeds.