Saintly, or sin?

paul.farrell's picture

While absent mindedly sketching out ideas for a wedding invite due to take place at St. Paul de Leon Church, instead or writing St., I made the lower case 't' superscript and place the dot underneath it.

After pondering where I had seen this treatment before I remembered some old St. John's Wood tube station signage which uses it and after a further search the only other example I could find was the new image for St. Pancras station (again, London transport based!)

Can anyone shed some light on this arrangement? Presumably it has a historical context? Is there a right and wrong way of using it? Is it ever drawn as a single glyph or is it up to the designer to decide the relative scale and arrangement?

Florian Hardwig's picture

Just another example:

Edinburgh, Scotland

typerror's picture

I don't think I have ever seen that... or maybe don't remember it but it is cool. I have a client that would benefit from it but how do you distinguish Street from Saint? Is it context?


Bert Vanderveen's picture

Well, as it is I have been thinking lately about using a centred low dot as a kind of doubling sign. In this case the second example (South Street) would warrant that dot, because there is a final T and an intermediate T in the word Street.
In the same sense Saint would NOT get a low dot.

Now for some typedesigners to program their OT-fonts to do this (and the gods-who-are-writing-up-the-unicode-database to implement it too).

. . .
Bert Vanderveen BNO

Nick Shinn's picture

Detail of a print, 1860.

hrant's picture

Historically abbreviations were marked by long flat lines (usually placed above the string). I suspect that when the line was short enough it was made into a dot, and then when printing came it was much more convenient to put the dot after the string. Personally I think that's retarded. What you've done however seems pretty classy.


typerror's picture


As an abbreviation both saint and street are the same... that is why I asked about the contextu(r?)al ingredient. Oft times I see the difference as being street comes with the dot and saint without. Go figure!


typerror's picture

Sorry, double post.


Jongseong's picture

Oft times I see the difference as being street comes with the dot and saint without.

There are different style conventions using periods (full stops) with abbreviations in English. British style tends to put periods when a word is simply cut off at the point of abbreviation, but not otherwise. So this could be the reasoning:

Street → St____ → St.
Saint → S___t → St

typerror's picture

Makes sense... in a "wired" sort of way

So Mount would be Mt. But isn't that Montana?
And Mountain would be Mn(.?), but that is Minnesota and Ma would be Massachussets instead of momma!

And Gohebrew... what would be the abbreviation be for G-d since it seems to be abbreviated, only in a convoluted way : )

Thanks Brian, just having some mid afternoon fun.


Michel Boyer's picture

> what would be the abbreviation be for G-d since it seems to be abbreviated, only in a convoluted way

Oh! I thought it was a regular expression where - was matching a vowel. Following that logic, Street might be St* and Saint might be S*t .

hrant's picture

Montana is MT, and that's a postal code,
you're not supposed to use it in text.


typerror's picture

No S**t, Hrant! It is called humor!


Thomas Phinney's picture

I think the "sin" here is in using a faux superscript without adjusting the weight of the "T"... it looks out of place and generally crap.



eliason's picture

Fiddling with the dot under the T when there's a missing apostrophe also seems like misplaced attention!

hrant's picture

Sorry Michael. My sense of humor is misnamed.


typerror's picture


Wondering when somebody was going to get around to that (apostrophe).

For all their supposed wisdom both Hrant and Thomas missed it.


hrant's picture

Hey, somebody almost called me wise!
Thomas however certainly doesn't deserve that...

The apostrophe isn't missing. What happened is they used a special symbol, the invisible inverted baseline apostrophe, to omit it.


typerror's picture

Must have been done by a left hander : )


Florian Hardwig's picture

Apropos apostrophos:

mili's picture

Related, In Yorkshire, UK:

But I suppose that's really a line.

Matthew Dixon's picture

I'm with Jongseong on this one – I'd tend to go for Saint – St and Street – St. . As for the missing apostrophe, In English place and institutional names, there are a number where the apostrophe was never there at all, or has been lost over time – for example St Martins College or St Andrews University. As always in the wonderful, rich, growing English language, it's best to double check...

Funny, though, it should definitely be St John's Wood. Oh well ...

paul.farrell's picture

On newer signs the apostophe is present. It's just another one of these examples of poor use or lack of use of the apostrophe which seems endemic in written english. The examples below all come from Britain's leading supermarket chain...

Bt anyway, back to the St. ligature. Whilst flicking through the Beer labels post I was reminded of St. Peter's Brewery...

russellm's picture



adnix's picture

Nice merchandising strategy placing the kids books next to the adult books.

So would people get confused driving down Saint St.?


dezcom's picture

That dot looks like St John's Wart to me :-)


litherland's picture

Here's an example from the New York subway:

hrant's picture

A keeper photo.


innovati's picture

Luckily the french use 'Ste-' are their abbreviation for Saint... Saint David would be Ste-David.

Here in Canada, we often just use St for Saint and Ste for the french. I doubt anybody would notice if somebody used a '-' in english usage.

St-James St. would read as Saint James Street, and I don't think you could mis-read that.

More often than not though, on a street sign you might find 'rue St-James St.' which would be bilingual.

French only would read 'Rue Ste-James'

eliason's picture

I thought in French St. was for Saint (male) and Ste. was for Sainte (female)?

litherland's picture

Eliason, you're right.

Note that they omit the period and use an unspaced dash before the proper name. So: St-Jean. At least to my knowledge. (I'm basing this on having lived, studied and worked in France; I've never actually read any usage guide or rule about the practice. If anyone knows of any verbiage on the subject, please point me to it; now I'm interested.)

Justin_Ch's picture

In Whitstable, Kent. UK.

paragraph's picture

I really like the playfulness of this. Good on them.
Well done. Who says street or tube signage has to be boring?

timd's picture

Shame that an Associated Press article on apostrophes should start with a howler in the first line
– Its a catastrophe for the apostrophe

Queen’s English

won’t bother going on.


buddhaboy's picture

It’s a catastrophe for the apostrophe

I must be slipping here - "it's" is the correct usage as a contraction, isn't it?

timd's picture

>the correct usage as a contraction

Yes, I was referring to Craig Eliason’s link (I inserted the missing apostrophe).

Of the sites that have recycled the story there are very few that have changed it to the correct usage, kudos to Tampa Bay Online for assuming it was an intentional error.


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