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How punctuation is used - and not used - in early modern texts.

This video will introduce you to the quirks of early modern punctuation. The focus will be on the use of horizontal pen strokes and capital letters. You will also be introduced to early modern abbreviations.

Summary of key points

  • Early modern punctuation is erratic and unsystematic, but the author’s intentions are usually clear.
  • Sometimes phrases (e.g. ‘your lordship’) will be abbreviated with a colon.
  • Horizontal strokes are used to fill up blank spaces in order to prevent unauthorised insertions.
  • Capital letters are used to highlight important words in a sentence but are not always used to signify a new sentence.
  • A hyphen will sometimes be formed of two horizontal strokes (‘=’).

Examples provided by

University of Nottingham Libraries
The Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford

This article is from the free online

Early Modern Scottish Palaeography: Reading Scotland's Records

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FutureLearn - Learning For Life

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