AM 51 4to, bl. 1v-2r



Before the writing could begin, the layout of the page had to be decided, i.e. the size of the margins, the amount of columns, the writing field's height and width and the height of the lines. The width of margins and height of lines was delimitated by prick-holes on each page. This was done by using a sharp knife or a needle (stylus). The parchment could be pricked before or after it was folded into a double leaf.

The picture on the right shows prick-holes in the outer margins of a leaf in AM 187 8vo, a Danish medicinal book from the beginning of the 15th century. 

AM 187 8vo, bl. 20v


The prick-holes made it possible to draw lines with regular intervals. The lines were drawn with a pencil or pen and a ruler. A so-called ruling pattern could also be used. In many manuscripts, the lines have faded with time, while in others, they are still clearly visible. With the writing field precisely delimited, the scribe could begin filling in the lines.

The picture on the right shows the ruling in AM 51 4to from around 1400 which contains Magnus Eriksson's Land Law.

AM 51 4to, bl. 12


Rubrication is the term used for the writing of rubrics. These are the parts of the text that are written in red ('ruber' means red in latin), generally headings, initials, chapter numbers, column titles or section signs. Rubrics and initials could be written by a 'rubricator', i.e. a scribe specialised in rubrication. 

The picture on the right shows the heading on the first page in the manuscript with sagas of kings AM 45 fol.: Her hefr vpp konunga bok (Here begins the king's book).

AM 45 fol, bl. 1v