Cross-Writing: When People Wrote Across the Page to Save Paper

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This may come as a surprise to some people, but at one point it was common practice to “cross-write.” (Another name it’s know for: “cross-hatching.”) Essentially the writer would reach the bottom of the page, turn the paper sideways, and continue writing!

This was back in the 19th century when paper was more expensive and postal delivery was charged per page or by the size of the paper. Writing sideways on top of the first side of text saved the writer money.

You may find cross-writing hard to read at first but the mind has a way of adapting. Once you become familiar with it you adjust and learn to ignore the other words.

Many examples of this phenomenon can be found online, including ones by famous writers from the era such as Henry James, Jane Austen, and Charles Darwin. Check out a few examples we’ve compiled below!





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