Marginal note

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Printed and handwritten marginalia
Handwritten marginalia

A marginal note (from Latin margo 'margin', marginalis 'belonging to the margin') is a comment placed on the margin of a book page or a manuscript that offers a comment, reference or correction to a passage in the text.

In a figurative sense, "marginal note" denotes an incidental matter.

Types of marginalia

Marginalia in ancient and medieval manuscripts, such as the stylus glosses , or in early prints, like other types of glosses, can offer valuable aid to understanding; both to understand the text itself and to understand how the text was received at the time the marginal note was written. Occasionally, however, marginalia can also be found as pictorial representations without any reference to the text; partly as pure ornamentation, partly they tell their own stories. Sometimes the edge of the prints was also used for writing exercises .

In the context of printing technology , the term also refers to printed marginal notes, e.g. B. as an explanation or instead of a section heading, comparable in their function to the so-called 'living running headlines' . In this use, the marginalia are often included in the table of contents , but mostly presented under the corresponding chapter heading as a continuous text listing (each marginalia with the corresponding page number after it, separated from the successor by a suitable symbol, e.g. a dash ).

The marginal note can be used in the manuscript of a text to be published that is proofread or in its galley proofs to add additions and correction notes, for which a correspondingly spacious paper margin is often provided.

When examining private libraries , reading copies, files or letters from interested personalities, e.g. B. by artists, poets, scientists or politicians, the marginalia attached by the person concerned can provide valuable information that he has paid particular attention to certain statements in the text or that they have encouraged their own considerations. Marginalia by unknown authors in the books of public libraries and collections or in borrowed school books, on the other hand, are considered doodles, annoyances and damage to property .

See also


  • H. J. Jackson: Marginalia: Readers Writing in Books. Yale University Press, New Haven, London 2001, ISBN 0-300-08816-7 ( review ).
  • Wolfgang Neuber : Topik as reading model. On the early modern practice of text indexing through marginalia using the example of some prints from Hans Staden's 'Veritable Historia'. In: Thomas Schirren , Gert Ueding (Ed.): Topic and Rhetoric. An interdisciplinary symposium. Niemeyer, Tübingen 2000, ISBN 3-484-68013-X , pp. 177-197.
  • Evelyne Polt-Heinzl : Encounters on the edge of a book. The cosmos of the traces of reading - profound and exquisite. In: Neue Zürcher Zeitung , 30./31. December 2000, No. 304, International Edition, p. 49.
  • Evelyn B. Tribble: "Like a Looking Glass in the Frame": From the Marginal Note to the Footnote. in: D. C. Greetham (Ed.): The Margins of the Text. The University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor 1997, ISBN 0-472-10667-8 , pp. 229-244.

Web links

Wiktionary: Marginalie  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
  • Example of a marginal note in a specialist book on the bottom left of the page: Hans Haeckel: Meteorologie . 7th edition. Ulmer UTB, Stuttgart 1985, ISBN 978-3-8252-3700-4 ( limited preview in the Google book search).

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Erwin Koppen : Marginalia. In: Small literary lexicon. 4th, revised and greatly expanded edition. Vol. 3: Subject terms. In continuation of that of Wolfgang Kayser worried 2. u. 3rd edition ed. by Horst Rüdiger , Erwin Koppen. Francke, Bern 1966, p. 250; Marginalia and marginal glosses. In: Helmut Hiller: Dictionary of the book. 4th, completely revised edition. Klostermann, Frankfurt am Main 1980, ISBN 3-465-01384-0 , p. 192.