Monday, October 14, 2013

Bad hyphens, unhelpful abbreviations

In two recent posts, Daughter Number Three looks at laughably bad hyphens (or hyp- hens) and unhelpful postal abbreviations.

Reading the first post reminds me of manual-typewriter days, when one had to decide whether or how to hyphenate at the end of a line. Secretaries and typists often used a little dictionary for that purpose: no definitions, just spelling and syllabification. Reading the second post makes me think that the old postal abbreviations (Calif., Mass., N. Y.) weren’t bad at all.

As I just discovered, USPS has a handy PDF with the history of postal abbreviations. It surprises me to see that the two-letter versions have been around since 1963.

comments: 5

Pete said...

I've also seen Illinois as "Ills.", which I've always liked.

Daughter Number Three said...

I can't stand the traditional (and AP) abbreviation of Illinois, Ill. Especially in a sans serif typeface. I break the rules and spell that one out in text all the time.

Michael Leddy said...

I thought right away of what Erik Spiekermann says about Helvetica. Yes, Ill. is ugly. In my head though I see it as handwritten, with the capital I sporting serifs or in cursive.

Diane Schirf said...

Illinois in sans serif is a proofreading nightmare. I know I'm going to miss an extra "l" someday on proofs. Which means I'll miss something else.

I used to have one of those hyphenation books. I probably still do . . .

Michael Leddy said...

Diane, that reminds me of my wish that Google’s URL shortener would stay away from the numeral 1, the capital i, and the lowercase L.