The Codex Gigas, 13th century, Bohemia.

A codex (from the Latin caudex, meaning "trunk of a tree", “block of wood” or “book”), plural codices (z/), is a book constructed of a number of sheets of paper, vellum, papyrus, or similar materials. The term is now usually only used of manuscript books, with hand-written contents,[1] but describes the format that is now near-universal for printed books in the Western world. The book is usually bound by stacking the pages and fixing one edge to a spine, which may just be thicker paper (paperback or softback), or with stiff boards, called a hardback, or in elaborate historical examples a treasure binding.[citation needed]

At least in the Western world, the main alternative to the paged codex format for a long document is the continuous scroll, which was the dominant form of document in the Ancient World. Some codices are continuously folded like a concertina, in particular the Maya codices and Aztec codices, which are actually long sheets of paper or animal skin folded into pages. These do not really meet most current definitions of the "codex" form, but are so called by convention.[citation needed]

The Romans developed the form from wax tablets. The gradual replacement of the scroll by the codex has been called the most important advance in book making before the invention of the printing press.[2] The codex transformed the shape of the book itself, and offered a form that lasted until the present day (and continues to be used alongside e-paper).[3] The spread of the codex is often associated with the rise of Christianity, which adopted the format for use with the Bible early on.[4] First described by the 1st-century AD Roman poet Martial, who praised its convenient use, the codex achieved numerical parity with the scroll around 300 AD,[5] and had completely replaced it throughout what was by then a Christianized Greco-Roman world by the 6th century.[6]


Codices largely replaced scrolls similar to this.

The codex provides considerable advantages over other book formats:

The change from rolls to codices roughly coincides with the transition from papyrus to parchment as the preferred writing material, but the two developments are unconnected. In fact, any combination of codices and scrolls with papyrus and parchment is technically feasible and common in the historical record.[8]

The codex began to replace the scroll almost as soon as it was invented. In Egypt, by the fifth century, the codex outnumbered the scroll by ten to one based on surviving examples. By the sixth century, the scroll had almost vanished as a medium for literature.[9]

Technically, even modern paperbacks are codices, but publishers and scholars reserve the term for manuscript (hand-written) books produced from Late antiquity until the Middle Ages. The scholarly study of these manuscripts from the point of view of the bookbinding craft is called codicology. The study of ancient documents in general is called paleography.[10]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Kodeks
العربية: سفر (كتاب)
català: Còdex
čeština: Kodex
dansk: Kodeks
Deutsch: Kodex
español: Códice
euskara: Kodex
فارسی: دفترنامه
français: Codex
Frysk: Kodeks
galego: Códice
한국어: 코덱스
hrvatski: Kodeks
Bahasa Indonesia: Kodeks
עברית: קודקס
Jawa: Kodèks
Latina: Codex
latviešu: Kodekss
lietuvių: Kodeksas
magyar: Kódex
Nederlands: Codex
日本語: コデックス
norsk: Kodeks
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Kodeks
پښتو: کوډېکس
português: Códice
română: Codex
Simple English: Codex
سنڌي: ڪوڊيڪس
slovenščina: Kodeks
српски / srpski: Кодекс
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Kodeks
suomi: Koodeksi
svenska: Kodex
Türkçe: Kodeks
українська: Рукописна книга