Gothic script in all its variations provided the universal letterforms throughout western Europe for close to four centuries.
Beinecke MS 220 is a small fourteenth-century psalter written in a Gothic script that has a notable verticality and consists of well-formed minims. The ink, now brown, would once have been black. This book was used throughout the fifteenth century; readers continued to annotate it and add other prayers, though this opening remained as it was. On the right, marked by the inhabited initial D, we have Psalm 26, which begins Dominus illuminatio mea, (“The Lord is my light”). This sentiment is evoked by the figure in the "D," who is pointing to his eye, as if now he sees.
Also note that in the faded black ink on the right-hand page, the later scribe has, perhaps by habit, left a space at the beginning of his text for the illuminated letter "D," the first letter of Deus ("God").
Marston MS 216 is now a composite volume, the first half of which probably was written in England between 1225 and 1250. Most of this book consists of biblical commentaries, a genre of text that was a valuable resource for sermon writers. This commentary is preceded by an elaborate alphabetical index of themes, which are indicated in the commentary margins as well. The slightly different script used for the index and marginal words, while still Gothic, is a distinctive hand that calls the reader’s attention to the gloss. The index for the letter "S" may originally have been omitted by mistake, so it has been written on a carefully attached fold-down flap.
If Marston MS 216 is an interpretative work with a reference apparatus, Osborn a58 is devoted completely to reference. Written about 1450, this collection of English legal writs and accompanying explanations was an important source for medieval lawyers. Had it been copied as straight text, it would have been visually impenetrable, which may explain the presence of the script and format “cues” built into the pages. Each writ, or “breve,” begins in larger letters and is accompanied by a paraph mark in red or blue. Further guidance is provided by the highlighted marginal topical entries.