Glossary – University of Copenhagen

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Glossary

abbreviation: shortening of words through suspension, contraction or superscript symbols. Read more about them in the box 'Ligatures and abbreviations' in the right hand corner on the page 'Script'.
binding
: the manuscript's binding, which originally was made out of wood or leather after the leaves were sown into gatherings. Read more about the binding process or see some examples of various types of binding on the page 'Bindings'.
bókmál
: the Old Norse name for the language in which books were written, i.e. Latin.
border: an illustration with a border around the drawing. See examples of these on the page 'Borders'.
buckles: metal buckles that were placed at the outer edges of a binding in order to keep the book tightly closed.
calendar: often at the beginning of religious texts where holidays are marked.
carolingian (script): see page 'Script'.
codex: from the Latin word meaning 'tree trunk' meaning book (see also book/beech on the page 'Production').
codicology: the study of a book's material structure and its history.
collation: the study of the book's structure.
collation (textual): comparative study of the same text in different manuscripts.
colophon: comment at the end of a section or at the end of a manuscript which provides information on the manuscript's scribe, provenance and/or date.
covers: book covers could be made of wood or leather. They were fastened around the quires with thick thread.
critical apparatus: a section at the bottom of a page in an edited text where the main variants along with their manuscript are indicated.
diplomas: official documents written to confirm agreements. Read more about them on 'Diplomas and letters'.
duodecimo: page and book format of approx. 7-14 cm in height. Abbreviated as '12mo'.
embossed binding: colourless decorations imprinted in the binding. See examples of this on the page 'Bindings'.
flesh side: side of the parchment that was originally facing the flesh of the animal. 
folio (format): page and book format of approx. 28+ cm in height. Abbreviated as 'fol.'.
folio: from the Latin 'folia': a leaf of parchment or paper that is used as writing surface. Abbreviated as 'fol.' or 'f.'
foliation: numbering of leaves.
format: term used to describe the different sizes of manuscripts. See folio, quarto, octavo, duodecimos or sedecimos for more detailed descriptions.
gothic (script): see page 'Script'
hagiographies: texts about saints' lives.
hair side: side of the parchment where hair follicles are visible.
homilies: commentaries on biblical scriptures.
illuminations: illustrations in manuscripts. See a more detailed explanation on the page 'Illustrations'.
initials: the first letters in a text, chapter or paragraph, often decorated. See examples of them on the page 'Initials'.
ink: 'blek' in Old Norse from the Old English 'blæc', black. The most common type of ink was made of a mixture of gallotannic acid, sulfuric acid and a colouring agent. Read more about ink on the page 'Writing'.
latinsk (skrift): see page 'Script'.
legends: didactic or entertaining stories about the lives of saints. Read more about them on the page 'Legends'.
ligatures: letters written together as one. Read more about them in the box 'Ligatures and abbreviations' in the right hand corner on the page 'Script'.
quire: gatherings, usually consisting of four bifolia, which are later sewn with other quires to form a book block.
quire signature: numbers, letters or more to guide the bookbinder in the correct order of the leaves.
medicinal books: books with medicinal texts. Read more about them on the page 'Medicinal books'.
law manuscripts: books with law texts. Read more about them on the page 'Law manuscripts'.
marginalia: additions, either written or drawn, in the margins of a text. See examples on the page 'Marginalia'.
manicula: 'little hand' in Latin, used next to a text to signal the important passages.
miniatures: drawings in manuscripts originally made with red lead, minium. See examples on the page 'Miniatures'.
necrology: a book where the names of the dead members of a religious order are marked.
octavo: page and book format of approx. 9-20 cm. in height. Abbreviated as '8vo'.
pagination: numbering of pages. 
palimpsest: an object that is re-used after its contents have been erased. Read more about them on the page 'Palimpsests'.
palaeography: the study of the history of script. From Greek palaios and graphia, i.e. 'old writing'. Read more about the history of script on the page 'Script'.
papyrus: an Egyptian writing support material used since 3000 B.C. and made from the plant papyrus. Only one side of the material could be used for writing. Longer papyri would be rolled into scrolls. Scrolls were very popular in Ancient Greece and in the Roman Empire, but were replaced by parchment around the 7th century.
pen: or quill pen, from the Latin penna: 'feather'. The hardened feather was used for writing. Read more about them on the page 'Writing'.
prayer books: books that contain prayers. Read more about them on the page 'Prayer books'.
parchment: animal skin that was used for writing and of which manuscripts are made. 
pigment: a mix of colouring agents used for decorating (illuminating) manuscripts. 
pricking: the preliminary step before ruling where holes are made in the parchment with a sharp knife at regular intervals to guide the tracing of lines.
quarto: page and book format of approx. 18-29 cm in height. Abbreviated as '4to'.
recto: front side of a leaf. Abbreviated 'r'; for example: f(olio). 22r(ecto).
rubrics: text written in red that marks the beginning of a new chapter or section in the manuscript.
runes: script used in the North before the introduction of book culture. Runes have only been used in one manuscript: AM 28 8vo. Read more about this manuscript on the page 'Law manuscripts'.
ruling: delimitation of the writing area with lines drawn with pencil and ruler. See examples of this on the page 'Writing'.
sedecimo: the smallest book format. Abbreviated '16mo'.
scriptorium: a special room designed for writing where all writing tools were available. 
transcription: the act of writing a text from one script type in another script type. 
verso: back side of a leaf. Abbreviated 'v'; for example: f(olio). 2v(erso).
vellum: the most prestigious type of parchment made with the skin of an unborn calf.
watermark: a decorative philigrane mark sometimes left between the membranes of a sheet of paper to attest the origin of the paper.