The Romans already shortened first names, dates in calendars, and numerous concepts in the state and legal systems. The partially variable and ambiguous abbreviations contain considerable uncertainties regarding the wording. As a result, the use of notae iuris was prohibited for official copies of the Codex Theodosianus. Emperor Justinian declared further prohibitions for law books.

Even in the Middle Ages there was no uniform system of abbreviations. The abbreviation symbols were diverse and regionally different. For reading handwritten texts it is therefore essential to know the most important methods and most frequent forms of abbreviations.

The abbreviations conventions developed in Roman antiquity serve as a model for the practice of shortening in the Middle Ages.

The most common reference work for Latin shortening is the Cappelli. In German texts, abbreviations are not so numerous and are much easier to resolve.

The Cappelli, the handbook for abbreviations.

In the high and late medieval abbreviations, a distinction is made between syllable shortenings, suspensions, contractions and shortenings by special characters. Syllable abbreviations are characterized by omission of letters, which are usually indicated by superscript letters or special characters. Suspensions are characterized by omitting letters at the end of words. They are usually marked with a dot. Examples: R.P. for res publica, q. for que, DAT. for date. They are still common today: UNO, WWW, Prof., lic. phil. By doubling the last letter, the plural is displayed: IMPP. for imperatores. This convention is also still in use: Jbb. for yearbooks. Contractions are indicated by omitting letters inside the word. In Latin this makes the ending easier to recognize. Examples: DS, DI, DO for Deus, Dei, Deo; DNS for dominus, ECCLIA for ecclesia. There are contemporary examples of this as well: Vol., Dr.

genommen (taken): nasal line

wissen (to know): nasal line

und (and): shortening at the end of the word
The most common abbreviation is the nasal line. A horizontal line above a letter indicates that an m or n is to be added. It can also be resolved to e. In italic fonts it is often attached to the last letter. A horizontal line can also stand for abbreviations at the end of words.

oder (or): er-shortening

herren (gentlemen): re-shortening

korn (grain): r-shortening

The er shortening is also very common. It is indicated by a superscript tick. The abbreviation can also stand for re, ir, ri, simple r or e to be added.

Fürstliche Gnaden (Princely Graces): Suspension

entpfangen (received): shortening at the end of the word

daz (that): standard abbreviation

Abbreviations are often formed by suspension and common abbreviation symbols are used for prefixes, suffixes and suffixes. Common abbreviations in German texts are dc, wc or dz, wz, for daz and waz.

schilling (unit of currency): standard abbreviation

mütt (measurement for grain): standard abbreviation

batzen (coin): standard abbreviation

Every writer handles abbreviations for frequently used words and groups of words individually. In business writing, it is mainly the common units of coinage, measurement, and weight that are important.