Skip to main content

Medieval Manuscripts: Home

Guide created for LI827 Format Project


This LibGuide's creation was inspired by a Format Project assigned in our Preservation Strategies course under the guidance of Professor Kern. It was compiled by two individuals who share a mutual admiration for books of antiquity. We hope you find the references assembled here useful. If interest in Medieval Manuscripts has led you here, we wish you happy exploration and encourage you to visit the library and consult with a reference librarian as you continue your journey through Medieval Manuscripts.


Michelle earned her undergraduate degree in Anthropology with an emphasis in Archeology and Native American Studies from Metropolitan State College in Denver, Colorado. She began her library career at Anythink Libraries in Adams County, Colorado. Next, Michelle worked as the Lead Librarian at the Denver School of the Arts for the Denver Public Schools. While studying at Emporia State University, Michelle has focused on Archival and Special Libraries studies. She hopes to merge her undergraduate degree with her Masters of Library Science in future employment. 


Alum Tawed: A process that prepares white leather by soaking animal skin in alum.

Applied Covers: Decorative plaques, typically made of metalwork or ivory, then set into, or onto, the boards of binding. 

Bifolium: A sheet of material for writing, folded in half, which produces two leaves for a total of four pages. 

Binding Medium: An ingredient in paint or ink that binds the pigment to adhere it to a surface. 

Boss: A protruding ornament, commonly metal, applied to a binding, serving as a protective function. 

Burnishing: Highlighting the smoothness and shininess of a surface. 

Carpet Page: An ornamental page prevalent in insular art. The carpet page does not feature text and typically separates the four Gospels in a manuscript. 

Channeling: A system of grooves cut into binding boards to host the cords that attach the boards to the quires.

Cockled: A bulge, wrinkle, or crease on the surface of a manuscript. 

Cornerpiece: Metal plaques attached to protect the corners of binding.

Endbands: Bands placed at the head and tail of the spine of a book to consolidate its ends and to strengthen the attachment of the boards.

Endpapers: Two or more leaves at the beginning or end of a book that line the boards or serve as flyleaves. 

Flesh Side: The side of the parchment or vellum sheet that faced the animal's flesh. 

Flyleaf: Located at the beginning or end of a book that protects the text.

Folio: Half of the Bifolium. The front is referred to as the recto and the back is known as the verso. 

Gauffered: Pages with tooling on the opening edges. 

Gallnut: From a swelling that forms on the bark of an oak tree. Used to make ink and also used in tanning processes. 

Gilding: The application of gold or silver to a surface. 

Limp Binding: Composed of parchment, paper, or fabric without boards reducing cost. 

Membra Disjecta: Detached leaves from a manuscript. 

Overpainting: The finished painting that covers a drawing or preliminary painting; also, a laying of paints to broaden the color range. 

Oxidation: A chemical reaction resulting from exposure to oxygen. 

Panels: Engraved metal blocks used to embellish a portion or the whole book cover design.

Pegging: the securing of cords to the boards of a binding through dowels or pegs typically made of wood.

Pounce: A chalky substance that may include ash, bone, bread, or pumice that is rubbed onto a writing surface such as parchment.

Quire: Gatherings from which a book is made.

Recto: the front side of a folio or leaf.

Singleton: A single folio that has lost its mate or was designed to be sewn into a book as a single sheet.

Tail: The bottom end of a manuscript. 

Tailpiece: An ornament that may contain a rubric or colophon which is located at the end of a text. 

Turn-Ins: The edges of the binding that are folded over the head, tail, and fore edge of the boards and secured to the inner sides. 

Verso: The back of a folio or leaf. 

Brown, M. P. (1994). Understanding illuminated manuscripts: A guide to technical terms. Los Angeles, CA: Getty Publications. 




Tammy is an aspiring librarian, who at the time of this LibGuide's creation, is working on her MLS degree through Emporia State University. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Art History from Portland State University. In addition to these ventures, she works for Clark College in the Lewis D. Cannell Library as a Library and Archives Paraprofessional 2. Tammy also volunteers at the Portland Art Museum and the annual Art in the Pearl, hosted in Portland, Oregon. Tammy is the author of the blog Red Rome Pony and contributor to Texts of Time: The Portland State Book of Hours and the Medieval Manuscript Tradition.



Art Abstracts is an extensive resource of art. The database includes art history and criticism, architecture and architectural history, archaeology, antiques, museum studies, graphic arts, in addition to various aspects of design and mediums.

Art Index Retrospective.  An index of articles published in art journals during the span of years from 1929-1984, in citation format. Art Index Retrospective covers all areas of art: art history & criticism, architecture & architectural history, archaeology, antiques, museum studies, graphic arts, folk art, painting, decorative arts, costume design, non-western art, textiles and various contemporary subjects.

JSTOR: A digital archive of full-text academic and scholarly journals published around the world from the 1600s to the present, covering subjects in art, history, and more. The database also includes primary source materials such as letters, images, and pamphlets.


facebook  twitter   blog youtube maps