Old School Full Stop

mike gastin's picture

OK - anyone ever see old text - like on a head stone - and there is a full stop/period after single words or fragments?

Like "Father."

Also, I noticed it on the masthead of the Wall Street Journal.

"The Wall Street Journal."

Does anyone know why the period was used this way? Was there a logic behind it? Was it just a convention?

Am I just imagining things?

bieler's picture


The use of the full stop was the convention for titling up until the end of the nineteenth century.

I don't know when the convention was abandoned entirely (as common practice) or when the first instance of abandonment began.

The rationale behind it is fairly commonsensical. Most titling was in sentence form. It may have taken a bit of a conceptual leap to have abondoned the convention.


matha_standun's picture

The current style sheet of the Newry Democrat imposes full stops at the end of all titles and captions. A friend of mine worked for them for a few years and to this day has a mania for putting full stops all over the place in everything he writes.

Their online version doesn't reflect this, though:



mike gastin's picture

Thanks Gerald & Matha.

I guess cultural perspective is everything.

treacyfaces's picture

An aside, hopefully related enough:

Advertising copywriting and creative direction has been making use of the full stop fairly regularly since the late 1960s.

Probably as an outgrowth of interest in the poster as advertising, in ten decades or so, preceeding.

The school of thought that supports it looks at a typical marketing environment (even a magazine ad) as a 'billboard', of sorts. Or, as a 'bumper sticker'.

In either case, it is incumbent on the writer + art director to communicate rapidly.

Some look at the style as the most rapid form available. The period seems to some to add 'immediacy' or 'urgency' to the message.

It's quite easy to find oneself in a battle royal with a copywriter who despises periods at the end of incomplete sentences used as headlines or subheads.

I actually have always favored the full stop approach, because it does add visual interest and immediacy, when handled properly.

I, too, enjoy those very old grave markers. Quite a lot of the work both in the lettering and the surrounding stonework, is breathtaking.


Joe Pemberton's picture

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