Marginalia  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Marginalia is the general term for notes, scribbles, and editorial comments made in the margin of a book. The term is also used to describe drawings and flourishes in medieval illuminated manuscripts. True marginalia is not to be confused with reader's signs, marks (e.g. stars, crosses, fists) or doodles in books. The formal way of adding descriptive notes to a document is called annotation.

The scholia on classical manuscripts are the earliest known form of marginalia. Fermat's last theorem is probably the most famous historical marginal note.

The term was coined by Samuel T. Coleridge who did extensive in margin notes in almost all the books that he read. Five volumes of just his marginalia have been published.

Marginalia can add or detract from the value of a book, depending on the the author of the marginalia and the book. Marginalia by Tony Blair in a book by Winston Churchill, for example, would add value; a student's notes in a Penguin edition of Oliver Twist would not.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Marginalia" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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