March 13, 2008

Meet me at the Pilcrow & Capitulum

Posted in Reading, typography at 5:48 pm by India

pilcrows

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.” . . .

In any case, Pilcrow & Capitulum would make a fine name for a pub . . .

—Jonathan Hoefler at Typography.com. I like the way this man thinks.

¶ I enjoy using pilcrows (HTML entity ¶, in case you want one of your own); perhaps we need to find some new uses for this character.

¶ I mean, besides the obvious—T-shirts!

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4 Comments

  1. Schizohedron said,

    In any case, Pilcrow & Capitulum would make a fine name for a pub . . .

    Very true; in fact, I thought your post title was your way of calling a meeting of the Royal Stet Lodge!

  2. India said,

    Sadly, no. We must resign ourselves to meet in bars with far more prosaic names. But I am overdue for scheduling a meeting . . .

  3. […] India points us to this explanation by Jonathan Hoefler of where the paragraph symbol comes from: 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.” . . . […]

  4. David Foster Wallace has used the pilcrow (the name of which I did not know until now; thank you!) in some short stories, if I remember correctly.

    I have heard from magazine editors who shall remain nameless that DFW can be kind of a jerk when it comes to editing and formatting his work. I’m not sure whether his requesting/requiring the use of the pilcrow would be thought a neat thing or an unpleasant idiosyncracy. I suppose it’s all in the eyes of the editor and typesetter.


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