In fact, João Afonso always uses the second plural person to inform us about another document found, a fact that, if it is not just an option of written formalization of his individual authorship (which is thus denied), he can indicate the presence of other officers at the time of inventory of written objects. See the following examples: «(…) the quall found in the vest (…)», «Acharom in the said bag …».
The work of identifying and describing the documents, resulting in the standard inventory formula mentioned above, was therefore based on a very empirical approach to written acts.
In fact, João Afonso defined, with great detail, the visible material elements that made up the written objects, with special relevance for the support, number of folios and validation elements, such as stamps or public notary signs. The conservation units to which the inventoried documents corresponded were described mainly by their material attributes, such as the larger or smaller size of the cloth bags, the specific material with which the bundles of documents were attached, or even that characteristic that distinguished a bag any other cloth, the fact of having a certain license sewn on its opening. All of these attributes, noticeable by simply observing the documents and the conservation units, would allow the readers of the inventory to identify a document and, above all, find it with some ease.
The care given in the material description of the written acts was also present when it came to enunciating the various documents that comprised the document to be inventoried, that is, its documentary stratigraphy. The most evident cases were found in the notarial documentation, by means of transfers in public form, in which the notary gave public faith to the rewritten document. Thus, João Afonso decided to present us instruments in public form, explaining that they incorporated one or more royal missives (30, 44, 45, 56, 59, 149, 151 (incorporating two royal missives), 152, 169, 174), one notarial document that housed a “protest” made by the tenant of the Évora sisa to the municipality of this city on the conditions of exercise of that office (no. 55), and another that contained a letter from Gonçalo Anes Lobo, corregedor of the district, preventing an enforceable sentence (No. 170).
João Afonso allowed us to access the formal and conceptual complexity of these written acts, revealing, on the one hand, how important it would be for this inventory to include a description of the documents transferred (especially, in the case of royal letters due to the relevance of their provisions ), and on the other hand, highlighting his condition as a scribe, necessarily attentive to the formal composition of any written act.
However, the identification of objects written by typologies related to their shape is very restricted. We find references to a “storm in which he wills the crausollas of the wills”, to a “storm of affront”, to a “sentence”, and to a “written process”, being that all the remaining documents are only “instruments” or «Public instruments» (in the case of notary documents), and «letters», the latter classification corresponding to almost all royal documents, that is, to most of the written acts in this inventory.