Difference Between Manuscript and Inscription


Main Difference

The main difference between Manuscript and Inscription is that Manuscript is something written by hand; it may be a document, a piece of music, or a book, whereas Inscription is something written or carved onto something.

Manuscript vs. Inscription

A manuscript is a typewritten or handwritten note or record. All the documents written before the invention of the printing press can categorize as manuscripts. In contrast, the inscription is a text carved on a hard surface; in ancient times, the inscription used for recording or copying information, but nowadays, it most widely used on tombstones coins and marble stones which tell us about historical monuments. Inscriptions contain essential historical information, so ways should be derived to protect them.


Manuscripts can be called as the handwritten records of history, whereas inscriptions are engraved records about the past. Manuscripts generally considered historical artifacts, so they need to be protected.

Manuscripts are written on paper, for example, papyrus or parchment, so they are difficult to preserve, but as inscriptions is writing on hard surfaces, they are easy to protect and so are highly durable and long-lasting. That is why information about historical artifacts and monuments, is engraved on marble stones.

An author’s unpublished work is a manuscript; instead, it is handwritten or typed, which is not published. An Inscription, on the other hand, maybe a book purchaser’s best wishes to the reader, for example, ‘I got this wonderful book for you as a Christmas present dear, with lots of love, grandpa.’


Comparison Chart

Writing Style
The manuscript is handwritten or typewrittenThe inscription is carven on a hard surface
Have a short time if not preserved well.Highly durable as they are carven on wood, stone or marble, etc
Changing or alteration is very easy as the writing is on paper.Changing or alteration cannot be made as to the writing carved in.
Papyrus, vellum, or parchment, etcRocks, stones, marbles, and wood
They are really easy to create.Need specific tools and proper skills to be created as the thing needs to carve in.

What is a Manuscript?

A manuscript defined as a handwritten document or record. The word ‘manuscript’ has derived from two Latin words ‘manu’ and ‘scriptus,’ ‘Manu,’ meaning ‘hand,’ and ‘scriptus’ meaning ‘written by hand.’ In the past, this technique of writing was most common before the invention of the printing press and the ‘block printing’ technique in China. Writing materials for manuscripts varied from country to country; for example, in India, ‘Palm leaf’ manuscripts were used whereas in Russia ‘birch bark documents’ were used. ‘Paper’ was first used to write manuscripts in China, but later it spread to Europe and other Islamic countries.

Manuscripts are easy to change and mold. If some mistake occurs while writing, it can easily be rectified as the writing material is soft. But it has a little disadvantage that manuscripts are short-lived, and they cannot preserve. Paper can easily be damaged, or it may decompose with time.

A manuscript is any document that is written by hand or by typewriters. Nowadays, this term also used to refer to a word-processed copy of an author’s work before its publishing. All the documents and books written before the invention of the printing press called manuscripts. It may be in the form of book scrolls or codex format. Illuminated manuscripts embellished with border decorations, illustrations, and pictures.


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What is Inscription?

The inscription is writing, mostly carved on a durable material such as marble, metal, steel, rock, or stone for preservation or public inspection. The art of writing inscriptions is also called epigraphy. Nowadays, inscriptions are usually made on gravestones, building fronts and monument descriptions, which is an imitation of ancient Roman methods.

In ancient times when the paper not developed, the only way of writing was on hard surfaces. They used to engrave writings and pictures on walls of caves or hard rock with the help of sharp handmade tools such as bones, metal, and ivory.

An inscription has its benefits, as it is etched on some hard material so that information on it is highly durable and can preserve for coming generations but with a little disadvantage that when once something is furrowed into a hard surface, it cannot be modified or corrected.

Epigraphy (inscription method) was common in China. The early Chinese inscriptions were made on pottery and bronze, and there are later writings on tortoise shells and bones. The invention of paper brought an end to the role of epigraphy in China. In earlier ages, the Hindus used palm leaves for writing their inscriptions.

The process of epigraphy in the west began in Mesopotamia and on the Nile. In Egypt, the hieroglyphic epigraphy showed an aligned development. Later, Epigraphy extended far beyond the Roman Empire.

Key Differences

  1. The Manuscript is handwritten text; on the contrary, Inscription is a carved or engraved form of text.
  2. Unpublished work of an author can be called as a Manuscript, whereas a note in front of a book is an Inscription.
  3. Manuscripts are written on soft surfaces; on the other hand, Inscriptions are on hard surfaces.
  4. Manuscripts are less durable as compared to Inscriptions.
  5. Manuscripts are much easier to create as compared to Inscriptions.
  6. Manuscripts can easily be altered as they are written on paper; on the contrary, Inscriptions cannot easily be altered as they are on hard surfaces.


Both manuscripts and inscriptions are techniques that refer to historical records where former being less durable and latter being more sustainable.

Aimie Carlson

Aimie Carlson is an English language enthusiast who loves writing and has a master degree in English literature. Follow her on Twitter at @AimieCarlson