Quill Books before print mediamediamediamediamediamedia
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> Copying the Text > Reading Aids> Paragraph

Gallows

Both longer and shorter medieval texts
were usually divided into smaller sections
called paragraphs. In the early days of the
paragraph, in the ninth century, they often
had the appearance of a plain "hook",
resembling the gallows. In the eleventh and
twelfth centuries more sophisticated variants
began to appear. First, diagonal lines started
to connect the horizontal and vertical part of
the paragraph.

Then, in the age of the scholastic book, the
reading aid received our modern shape: a "c"
with a vertical line struck through its centre.
In scholastic texts this type of paragraph often
came in two alternating colors: red and blue.
They appear to mark the "lector," the passage
that was read out loud in the classroom an
which was subsequently discussed. The c-symbol indicated the start of such a passage, while the
colors made it easier to know when to stop reading.