Quill Books before print mediamediamediamediamediamedia
choosing a writing support
making quires and sheets
preparing the page
copying the text
correcting the text
decorating the book
binding the book
using the book
> Copying the Text > Reading Aids

Navigating the book

Medieval scribes recognized that readers may need some help finding their way throughout the book or within the texts they contained. Over time, a number of tools were invented to this end. Many of them we still use today, such as the page number (foliation), the running title, and the index. This example is taken from a twelfth-century page and shows three aids to the reader. Most pronounced is the colorful initial letter U. Its size and color clearly marked the opening of a new chapter.
Thumbing through the book, in search of a particular section of text, the letters would jump out at the reader. The red lines above the U form a rubric: a heading that indicates what the next text section will discuss. This too was an important tool for finding certain information. The line underneath it, which is highlighted with a green wash, is the first line of the new section. It expressed where the reader should start reading. Combined, these three are a clever lot, helping the reader navigate the book and text at a fast pace.