Reading

Speaking of reference books . . .

I just came across the lapsed bloglet Zimmer’s Words of the Week, which appears to have been abandoned some time in April. The archives are full of good stuff, though, much of it from the wonderful Erin‘s Weird and Wonderful books. Consider, for example, bouffage [boo-FAHG] a filling meal. From an Old French word glossed […]

Yes, there is such a thing as a stupid question

Yes, there is such a thing as a stupid question

Even though their CD-ROM and its tech support suck, I still love the Chicago Manual of Style Q&A: Q. I’m editing a textbook that references a play. Should it be “Act 3,” “act three,” or “act 3”? A solution to this mystery would be greatly appreciated. I’ve looked at CMOS a hundred times for help […]

And attendance is the other 50 percent of your grade.

And attendance is the other 50 percent of your grade.

Fonts can shape reality in intangible ways, as Phil Renaud, a graphic designer from Phoenix, discovered when he studied the relationship between his grades and the fonts he used for his college papers. Papers set in Georgia, a less common font with serifs, generally received A’s while those rendered in Times Roman averaged B’s. —Peter […]

A-lines are always in style

Brainiac Josh Glenn takes issue with Steven Heller’s facile assertion that although “The human leg has evolved continually over many eons, adapting from an underwater propeller to its current form . . . on book covers and on film and theater posters, the leg has evolved very little.” I hate to quibble with the master, […]

Mandragoras

So I guess there’s no Klingon italic, either

The term “Roman” is customarily used to describe serif typefaces of the early Italian Renaissance period. More recently, the term has also come to denote the upright style of typefaces, as opposed to the word “Italic”, which refers to cursive typefaces inspired by the handwriting of Italian humanists. Thus Linotype offers fonts called Sabon Greek […]

The Chicago Manual of Style, 15th Edition. Nerd!

For anyone else who ever wondered

So I was trying to find an example of a paragraph-styled bibliography in the Chicago Manual when I had one of those irrelevant thoughts that so often interrupt my work: “I wonder if, using the magic of the internet, I could find out what books these sample pages are from?” —Languagehat: Fun with the Chicago […]

Meet me at the Pilcrow & Capitulum

Meet me at the Pilcrow & Capitulum

Like most punctuation, the paragraph mark (or pilcrow) has an exotic history. It’s tempting to recognize the symbol as a “P for paragraph,” though the resemblance is incidental: in its original form, the mark was an open C crossed by a vertical line or two, a scribal abbreviation for capitulum, the Latin word for “chapter.” […]

The Charles Montgomery Burns Award for Blogging

The Charles Montgomery Burns Award for Blogging

Last week Stephen Tiano was so kind as to select this blog as one of ten he rated “Excellent,” as part of a pay-it-forward linky thing. Thanks, Steve! I’m not sure I like the Enron-style logo for the project— —but I certainly appreciate the kind notice. Some of the relevant sites that I follow have […]

Interview with Peter Mendelsund

Interview with Peter Mendelsund

A lot of great stuff in this interview with Peter Mendelsund by Christopher Tobias at design:related: I definitely gravitate towards using illustration, in general, more than photography in book jackets; and the more abstract the better. I think this approach leaves more to the reader’s imagination. It’s easier to be evocative without being literal. Though, […]

I say! A subterranean semicolon!

I say! A subterranean semicolon!

[W]hatever one’s personal feelings about semicolons, some people don’t use them because they never learned how. In fact, when Mr. Neches was informed by a supervisor that a reporter was inquiring about who was responsible for the semicolon, he was concerned. “I thought at first somebody was complaining,” he said. From “Celebrating the Semicolon in […]