Period printing… Did you ever notice…?

April 30, 2012 by  
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A few months ago we received an inquiry from one of our friends wondering why pre-1900 newspapers included a period after the newspaper’s title in the masthead.  While I hold hundreds of such issues in my hands each week, I had never taken notice of this.  Wondering if this was in fact the case, I quickly began searching through our 19th and 18th century archives, and low and behold, every title ended with a period.  Searching through our 20th century inventory I discovered that none of the issues did.  I asked Tim Hughes his thoughts on the matter, and his response was as follows:

Regarding the query about periods at the end of 19th century titles, I don’t believere there is a reason beyond it simply being the grammatical style of the period. In fact the practice goes back to the 17th and 18th centuries as well. It was just the way newspapers (and magazines) were laid out, perhaps following some sort of grammatical “rule” of the day. There was also–compared to today–an excessive use of commas within text, which again was just the style of the day.

Perhaps the more interesting question would be when & why was the period eliminated at some point in the 20th century? I would suspect  one paper just made the decision and everyone else eventually followed, as there was much competition and copying among newspapers. Sorry I don’t have a more intriguing answer!

If any of our readers have additional information in regards to this, feel free to respond.

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One Response to “Period printing… Did you ever notice…?”

  1. Bob Hamm on April 30th, 2012 11:43 pm

    Regarding newspapers putting a period at the end of their name in the masthead: I remember as a kid reading that the New York Times was ending the practice of putting a period in its masthead. I recall the article said it would save about $40 worth of ink each year. Seems to me this was in the late 50s/early 60s. –B.H.,Portland, Oregon.

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