Quill Books before print mediamediamediamediamediamedia
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> Copying the Text > Punctuation

Quoting, quoting, quoting

Most of modern punctuation was available to medieval scribes, although they sometimes used it differently than we do today. In medieval times, the period at the end of the line may for example be expressed with a different symbol, such as a triple dot or even a comma. This image shows how a scribe expressed that the text he copied was a quote.

While it is not difficult to recognize our modern quotation marks in the swirly lines, the symbols operate differently. Most striking, perhaps, is that the medieval quotation marks are placed in the margin and not in the actual text. Moreover, the symbol is repeated over and over again in front of the quotation. When the symbols stop, the quote is over. This practice is a good example of the simplicity and effectiveness of medieval punctuation.