Well, the end of the semester is almost at our throats, so I don’t have much spare time at the moment, but I’ve been spending some of the time I do have with Keith Houston’s delightful book Shady Characters: The Secret Life of Punctuation, Symbols, & Other Typographical Marks. Nice job getting the ampersand into the title, Keith!

Follow that last link and you’ll be taken to an entry on the ampersand in the Shady Characters blog, where much of the content of the book may be found — not that I’m discouraging anyone from buying the book, just the reverse, but, you know, the spirit of full disclosure and all that. And it’s a wonderfully well-designed blog that happens to be chock-full of delightful information. Fair warning: if you’re at all interested in printing and typography you could get lost there for hours.


  1. I remember stumbling upon Shady Characters a couple of years ago (perhaps via your suggestion?) but then it was lost in RSS feed limbo.

    Thanks for reminding me how much I had enjoyed it.

  2. Thanks for the mention! The ampersand in the title was actually a fairly late addition; we'd agreed on the subtitle long before the cover was designed and it suddenly occurred to me, having finally seen the cover in the flesh, that the ampersand had to be in there.

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