Biblical manuscripts have liturgical notes at the margin, for liturgical use. Numbers of texts' divisions are given at the margin (κεφαλαια, Ammonian Sections, Eusebian Canons). There are some scholia, corrections and other notes usually made later by hand in the margin.
Some famous marginalia were serious works, or drafts thereof, written in margins due to scarcity of paper. Voltaire composed in book margins while in prison, and Sir Walter Raleigh wrote a personal statement in margins just before his execution.
Beginning in the 1990s, attempts have been made to design and market e-book devices permitting a limited form of marginalia.
"Marginalia" by Edgar Allan Poe appeared in The Democratic Review, July, 1846, published by Thomas Prentice Kettell.
Marginalia can add or detract from the value of an association copy of a book, depending on the author of the marginalia and on the book.
Catherine C. Marshall, doing research on the future of user interface design, has studied the phenomenon of user annotation of texts. She discovered that in several university departments, students would scour the piles of textbooks at used book dealers for consistently annotated copies. The students had a good appreciation for their predecessors' distillation of knowledge.