History of the bullet point

aventura's picture

I'm curious about the history of the bullet point -- ie. when it came into popular usage and how its name originated. Does anything have any information on this?


hrant's picture

"Pause and Effect" by Parkes might have something. I once made copies from that book but they're too deep in the gara... archives at the moment.


PublishingMojo's picture

Thanks for the tip, Hrant. I didn't know about Pause and Effect. Too bad it's 7 months 'til my birthday.

PublishingMojo's picture

(Sorry, duplicate)

JamesM's picture

> Too bad it's 7 months 'til my birthday.

Your local library might have it, or they could get it by interlibrary loan, which is usually free. Or they might have other sources that give the answer. Talk to someone in the library's reference department, they are experts at finding info.

I'd assume the name comes from the resemblance to a real bullet from certain angles. That's also what Wikipedia says, although I'd try to verify that from a more reliable source.

JamesM's picture

When Googling the subject, someone said that the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) discusses its history. You can't access it online without a subscription, but your library probably has a copy.

quadibloc's picture

A Google search did not turn up much about the history of the bullet point itself, but it did turn up facts about the history of its predecessors. Apparently the dingbat that was a picture of a pointing hand was the first typographical symbol used for this purpose, starting in the 12th century and continuing all the way into the 18th century.

aventura's picture

Thanks, all!

Sye's picture

I don't have this book, but it might interest you as well: http://www.shadycharacters.co.uk/shady-characters-the-book/

cerulean's picture

Not just "from certain angles." Actual bullets were generally spherical up until the American Civil War. The word itself means "little ball".

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