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A scroll is usually divided up into pages, which are sometimes separate sheets of papyrus or parchment glued together at the edges, or may be marked divisions of a continuous roll of writing material. The scroll is usually unrolled so that one page is exposed at a time, for writing or reading, with the remaining pages rolled up to the left and right of the visible page. It is unrolled from side to side, and the text is written in lines from the top to the bottom of the page. Depending on the language, the letters may be written left to right, right to left, or alternating in direction (boustrophedon).
Some scrolls are simply rolled up pages; others may have wooden rollers on each end: Torah scrolls have rather elaborate rollers befitting their ceremonial function.
History of scroll use 
Scrolls were the first form of editable record keeping texts, used in Eastern Mediterranean ancient Egyptian civilizations.
Parchment scroll used by Israelites after Sinai was the first use of scrolls in the recording of literature before the codex or bound book with pages was invented by the Latins in the 1st century AD to differentiate their usage from that of the Judeans who were recently conquered. Nevertheless, scrolls were more highly regarded than codices until well into Roman times where they were usually written in single latitudinal column.
The ink used in writing scrolls had to adhere to a surface that was rolled and unrolled, so special inks were developed. Even so, ink would slowly flake off of scrolls. If the ink from too many letters is lost, a Torah scroll is no longer used.
Shorter pieces of parchment or paper are called rolls, which may still be many meters or feet long, were used in the medieval and Early Modern period in Europe and various West Asian cultures for manuscript administrative documents intended for various uses, including accounting, rent-rolls, legal agreements, and inventories. Unlike scrolls, these are usually written down the length of the roll latitudinally. Rolls may be wider than most scrolls, up to perhaps 60 cm or two feet wide. Rolls were often stored together in a special cupboard on shelves.
A special Chinese form of short book, called the "whirlwind book," consists of several pieces of paper bound at the top with bamboo and then rolled up.
See also 
- Hanging scroll
- Herculaneum papyri
- Sefer Torah
- Woodblock printing
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