Image of two facing pages of the illuminated manuscript of "Isagoge", fols. 42b and 43a. On the top of the left hand page is an illuminated letter "D" – initial of "De urinarum differencia negocium" (The matter of the differences of urines). Inside the letter is a picture of a master on bench pointing at a raised flask while lecturing on the "Book on urines" of Theophilus. The right hand page is only shown in part. On its very bottom is an illuminated letter "U" – initial of "Urina ergo est colamentum sanguinis" (Urine is the filtrate of the blood). Inside the letter is a picture of a master holding up a flask while explaining the diagnostic significance of urine to a student or a patient. HMD Collection, MS E 78.
Inside the letter is a picture of a master in cathedra expounding on the Aphorisms of Hippocrates. Initial "V" rendered as "U" of "Vita brevis, ars vero longa", or "Life is short, but the art is long". "Isagoge", fol. 15b. HMD Collection, MS E 78.

Ironically, the manuscripts that were being most carefully preserved in the libraries of antiquity are virtually all lost. Papyrus has a life of at most a century or two in relatively moist Italian or Greek conditions; only those works copied onto parchment, usually after the general conversion to Christianity, have survived, and by no means all of those.

For a step-by step process of how these books were prepared, including copying and illumination, provided by the Getty Museum.

The coexistence in the Gothic period of formal hands employed for the copying of books and cursive scripts used for documentary purposes eventually resulted in cross-fertilization between these two fundamentally different writing styles. Notably, scribes began to upgrade some of the cursive scripts. A script that has been thus formalized is known as a bastard script (whereas a bookhand that has had cursive elements fused onto it is known as a hybrid script). The advantage of such a script was that it could be written more quickly than a pure bookhand; it thus recommended itself to scribes in a period when demand for books was increasing and authors were tending to write longer texts. In England during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, many books were written in the script known as Bastard Anglicana.

From ancient texts to medieval maps, anything written down for study would have been done with manuscripts. Some of the most common genres were bibles, religious commentaries, philosophy, law and government texts.

Most liturgical books came with a calendar in the front. This served as a quick reference point for important dates in Jesus' life and to tell church officials which saints were to be honored and on what day.

In film and theatre, a manuscript, or script for short, is an author's or dramatist's text, used by a theatre company or film crew during the production of the work's performance or filming. More specifically, a motion picture manuscript is called a screenplay; a television manuscript, a teleplay; a manuscript for the theatre, a stage play; and a manuscript for audio-only performance is often called a radio play, even when the recorded performance is disseminated via non-radio means.

In insurance, a manuscript policy is one that is negotiated between the insurer and the policyholder, as opposed to an off-the-shelf form supplied by the insurer.