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
> Preparing the Page

Get set!

Before a single word flowed from his pen, the scribe needed to prepare the page. Whether he had opted for a writing supported material, such as parchment or paper, the sheets were completely blank. He first needed to think about a sensible layout, carefully considering his options. Did the text he was about to copy carry certain conventions? Was it for example a book that was to contain glosses, or was it made for portable use? The design materialized when the scribe started to punch holes in the sheet (pricking) and draw lines between pairs of holes (ruling). Every single word on the page was written on such a line, which was drawn with either pencil or ink, or with a pointy object. Preparing the page was a labor-intensive process, especially when the scribe had opted for a complex layout, with multiple columns and glosses. It was important to get it right, however, as a messy layout would produce a messy book.