Manuscript vs Inscription: Difference and Comparison

History can be learned from manuscripts and inscriptions. Manuscripts are written by hand or manually typed, whereas inscriptions are written on relatively hard surfaces like stone or metal.

In this article, we’ve covered the differences between manuscripts and inscriptions on various bases to help the reader improve their understanding of historical writing based on primary sources.

Without archival and literary materials, history cannot be written. Historians investigate and attempt to comprehend what transpired in the past using these sources.

Here, we explain the differences between manuscripts and inscriptions based on a variety of criteria, which will assist the reader in gaining more understanding of historical research and source-based writing.

Key Takeaways

  1. Manuscripts are handwritten documents containing text or illustrations, on paper or parchment.
  2. Inscriptions are engraved or etched texts or images on hard surfaces such as stone, metal, or wood.
  3. Manuscripts are more susceptible to damage and degradation than inscriptions, which can endure for centuries.
Manuscript vs Inscription

Manuscript vs Inscription

A manuscript is a written or typed document on paper or parchment, containing original or historical information. The inscription refers to a form of writing that is permanent, carved, engraved, or etched onto a hard surface such as stone, metal, wood, and or even historic buildings.

On the other hand, inscriptions are described as the act of writing down minor details in order to recall the significance of an object or phrase.

Additionally, Manuscripts are also substantial records of historical data. Inscriptions, on the other hand, are one- or two-liner records of information such as a monarch or queen’s birth or death date.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonManuscriptInscription
CreationIt can be easily created.On the hard surface, where it is engraved. consequently take a lot of time and work.
CharacteristicIt consists of old handwritten records.It is engraved documents of the past rather than written ones.
PreservationThe soft surfaces of palm leaves, birch tree bark, vellum, papyrus, parchment, etc. have all been used for writing. Consequently, difficult to maintain.It has been inscribed on solid objects including pillars, boulders, stones, and cave walls. As a result, it is durable and doesn’t require much maintenance.
MaterialIt is written on vellum, papyrus, parchment, birch tree bark, the surfaces of palm leaves, etc.Kings records and significant events are inscribed on surfaces like rocks, stones, cave walls, pillars, etc.           
DurabilityIt has short lifetime, if it is not preserved properly.    Due to its hard surface, it has a longer life span  

What is a Manuscript?

A manuscript is a written work, either by hand or on a keyboard. Manuscripts refer to written works created prior to the invention of the printing press.

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A manuscript might be a scroll or a book. It may also contain a variety of information; a manuscript’s subject matter may be related to law, science, geography, or another subject.

Manuscripts were once created on papyrus, vellum, and various types of parchment.

However, because paper does not have a very long life, it was difficult to preserve those records.

For instance, papyrus’s lifespan, frequently used for many texts, was only a few centuries.

Manuscript preservation was hampered by poor storage conditions, bad weather, bug damage, etc.

Also, this artwork was handwritten instead of typed, and it is a creative creation.

So, the first copy he submits for publication can be referred to as a manuscript.

The fact that there are four main categories of manuscripts is, in fact, interesting.

Rapid communications, case studies, review articles, and original research are among them.


What is a Inscription?

An inscription is writing that has been carved into a solid object. Inscriptions and epigraphs were the common standards for writing or transcribing information in the ancient world, despite the fact that today most inscriptions are engraved on tombstones and coins.

Stone, marble, and metals like bronze, silver, and gold have all been inscribed.

The words were carved onto these surfaces using a harsh tool like a chisel.

These inscriptions are strong and sturdy since they were created on hard, solid surfaces.

Due to this durability, early civilizations’ inscriptions are still legible today.

Furthermore, unlike with manuscripts, no extra effort was required to preserve the inscription.

However, writing an inscription might have required a lot of time and effort.

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This was the means of storing information prior to the development of paper; inscriptions include a variety of material, including religious texts, laws, and policies, political degrees, public notifications, etc.

However, inscriptions are brief in comparison to written material on paper.


Main Differences Between Manuscript and Inscription

  1. A manuscript is a written work, whether it be typewritten or written by hand. In contrast, an inscription is written writing that has been carved into a solid surface.
  2. Manuscripts were written on materials like vellum, papyrus, parchment, etc. While inscriptions were written on solid materials like stone, marble, and metal.
  3. It’s quite challenging to preserve a text. They are resilient, unlike inscriptions, and preservation doesn’t require any extra work.
  4. Writing a manuscript is comparatively simpler. However, creating inscriptions required a lot of time and effort.
  5. If they weren’t properly conserved, manuscripts have a limited lifespan. While, an inscriptions had a longer lifespan.
  6. Since a manuscript’s writings are on paper, it is simple to change them. However, it is challenging to change the writing on an inscription.
  7. Because a manuscript’s writings are on paper, it is simple to change them. On the other hand, because inscriptions are inscribed on a hard surface like a stone, they are challenging to change.
Difference Between Manuscript and Inscription

Last Updated : 25 November, 2023

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