Manuscripts and Special Collections


The following list defines some of the words used in this web resource. It is not an exhaustive list of all words associated with medieval documents.

 Term Definition 
Cursive Handwriting style in which the scribe writes a word fluently, without taking his or her pen off the page between letters
Folio One leaf of a manuscript volume, with both the front (recto) and back (verso) sides available as writing spaces
Hand Style of handwriting particular to an individual person
Illuminated manuscript A manuscript decorated with gold, silver or precious metals
Inscription Something written into a volume or onto a document after the item itself has been completed
Law French Fossilized form of the medieval French language, used by lawyers in England until the seventeenth century
Liturgical Pertaining to religious services
Matrix Wooden or metal device with a raised pattern, used to create a seal impression when pressed into warm wax
Miniature An illustration within a text, presented on its own and not part of a decorative initial
Minim Simple vertical stroke used singly to form the lower case letter 'i', or in combination with other minims to form lower case 'm', 'n' or 'u'
Notary In England and Wales: a specialist lawyer dealing in Roman and ecclesiastical law
Parchment Writing surface made by treating and preparing animal hide, usually made from sheep or goat skin
Rubricated Highlighted in red ink
Scribe The person who copied a text
Script A general handwriting style chosen and used by scribes as appropriate to the type of document in question
Seal Authentication of a deed; an impression in wax attached to or stuck onto a deed
Tilde Abbreviation mark standing for missed-out letters in a word; a horizontal mark above the area of the word in which the missed-out letters would have been
Vellum Writing surface made by treating and preparing a superior-quality animal hide, often made from the skin of young lambs or kids
Witness A person named in a deed or document (and sometimes signing it), who was there when the document was made and can verify its authenticity


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Manuscripts and Special Collections

Kings Meadow Campus
Lenton Lane
Nottingham, NG7 2NR

telephone: +44 (0) 115 951 4565
fax: +44 (0) 115 846 8651