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The application of rubrics (red lettering) to a text, from Latin rubrium meaning red. Rubrication was commonly used in European manuscripts, beginning in about the 7th century CE. Rubrication was used to set apart the first letter of a paragraph or page, or some other special word or puctuation device.

After the birth of movable type printing, rubrication by hand was still very common through the end of the 15th century. With the use of movable type printing, rubrication was also done by the printer, by printing the additional charcters in red ink. This sort of rubrication is still used by fine printers, though fell out of fashion by the end of the 18th century due to the high cost.

Technically, rubrication refers only to additions to the text done in red, it is often used to refer to the combination of red and blue enhancements. Originally, before Gutenberg, rubrication, like all text, was done by hand. After Gutenberg, most rubrication was still done by hand, through the middle of the 16th century. Rubrication can be used to refer to any additions to text in red, whether by hand or by printer, though it is more common to see it used to refer to text added by hand.