Numbering pages started out not as a tool for readers but a guide for those who physically produced books. In Latin manuscripts copied in the British Isles as far back as the eighth or ninth century, numbering was sometimes used to ensure that individual sheets of parchment were collated in the correct order. In some cases, numbers appeared on both the recto and verso pages, but other times, only one side of the page bore a number. Use of numbering was sparse. It’s been estimated that around 1450—just before the birth of printing in the West—less than 10 percent of manuscript books contained pagination.
Fifty years later, the proportion of now-printed works with pagination was much higher. Part of the change reflected the new role of page numbers. Rather than strictly being tools for compiling leaves in the proper order, by the 1510s scholars were starting to refer to page numbers of printed volumes in their own writing.
When publishers wish to distinguish between the front matter and the story, the initial title pages are not numbered, the front matter is numbered using lower-case Roman numerals (i, ii, iii, etc.) and the first page of the story or main content begins with one. The title page of the story is not numbered, but if a story is broken into multiple parts (Part I, Part II, etc.), the title page for the section may be included in the numbering but not shown on the page. The first page of Chapter One would then be numbered as page three rather than page one as would be the normal case.
The sixteenth edition of the Chicago Manual of Style calls for the beginning of the text to begin with the Arabic number 1, while the front matter that precedes it is to be numbered with lower-case Roman numerals. If the front matter is extensive and a second half-title page is included, it is to be numbered as page one and its verso as page two. If a part title is included, it is to be included in the same numbering as the text. Page numbers do not appear on part titles. Most citation systems also call for the identification of the page number from which a quote or point is drawn. For example, such usage is specified in their citation formats of both the Chicago Manual of Style, and the Bluebook.