#63 Upper & Lowercase
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UPPER & lowercase, as in capital & “small” letters, are called upper & lowercase for a reason. It’s not because they are taller & shorter.
The terms “upper” & “lowercase” originated in the early days of hand-set type where each character was cast on a separate piece of metal & stored in shallow drawers known as job cases. Frequently there were two cases (drawers) for each font, one placed on top of the other while compositing type. The upper case contained the majuscules. The lower case contained the minuscules (these are the proper terms, though not heard much anymore).
This illustration has the cases reversed — lowercase is on top — to clearly show the various sizes of individual compartments needed to accommodate the quantity of each lowercase letter used for the average composition. (The uppercase compartments are all the same size.) There are more e’s used in the English language than any other letter, hence e is stored in the largest section.
Our friend the ampersand is stored in the upper case (bottom in this illustration), near the lower right corner: bottom row & second box in — see it?
The red lines & dots in AmperArt #63 Upper & Lowercase are proofreaders’ marks. Although today’s manuscripts are proofread & edited with highlights, tags & “sticky tag” callouts — or just edited directly in the word processing or page layout program — there’s nothing quite like proofing a hard copy printed page — you know, paper, not pixels. That’s usually where the last elusive typo will be discovered. (Another trick is to read the proof upside-down.) Proofing hard copy is done best with a red pen & a set of good old-fashioned proofreaders’ marks. Here’s a rather complete list:
Can you figure out what the red proofreader’s marks in #63 Upper & Lowercase mean?
Note: the design shows the final result after the requested revisions were carried out.
1. Close up (pull letters tighter together).
2. Make this a capital (upper case) letter.
3. “Stet” — let stand, ignore changes, revert to original.
4. Change to lowercase.
Online reference from Edit Fast, a service for writers: online proofreaders’ marks chart.
Triva: See where it says “insert lead” & ”take out lead”? Most writers & designers today know that “leading” is the term for space between lines of type. But why is it called “leading”? When type was set by hand (or even by machine, but still cast line-by-line) space was increased between the lines by inserting a flat strip of lead which varied from 1⁄4 point in thickness up to 12 points or more. Beyond stacking several strips of lead for a very large blank space, blocks of wood were frequently used. These strips really were made of lead, which is why many compositors ended up with cancer. (Many press operators became alcoholics from inhaling the ink & solvent fumes. But that’s a different department.)
Uh-oh. The red pen.
This is how messy a page can get if an amateur writer is being redlined by a professional editor. This photo shows a galley proof, so some of the proofreader’s marks might also indicate typesetter’s errors (typos) & artistic adjustments.
This image was “borrowed” from a wonderfully entertaining story on how copy editing used to be. Read it here. Written by a London editor, the term you’ll be reading is “sub-editing” or “subbing,” not copy editing as we call it in the US. Fiona Cullinan’s memoirs of the days of when copy & paste meant razor blades & rubber cement are pure joy. Brings me back to the days of real galley proofs & the “reproduction computer.” Thanks, Fiona.
Image © Periodical Training Council training material.
VALUABLE RESOURCE IF YOU’RE A WRITER:
The Frugal Editor
If you’re a writer on a budget — or if you’re just a compulsive DIYer — you can proof & edit, yourself, with a fantastic, thorough guide on self-editing: The Frugal Editor by Carolyn Howard Johnson. I highly recommend this valuable & frugal investment; see a few pages on amazon.com.
The Frugal Book Promoter
Once you edit your book, you might want to sell it — right? Carolyn’s flagship book in the Frugal series is The Frugal Book Promoter. See it here. This book is the most comprehensive guide on self-promoting (or with inexpensive help of others) I’ve ever read. Just the one statement “start promoting your book now, even if it’s not published yet, even if it’s not written yet!” is worth the price.
Yes, I designed the covers (you’ll see that if you visit the amazon links) but I was passionate about the project because both books are incredibly thorough & helpful, written by a brilliant & delightful author & publisher.
Print shop was my favorite class in junior & senior high. I printed my own business cards, greeting cards, & flyers (which I kept preciously safe in a storage facility for over 50 years, intending to share my childhood creations with you in an article like this…until they were all auctioned off Feb. 8, 2014 & are now in a trash heap somewhere along with thousands of other bits & pieces of my life, career, artwork — & my soul). My desk is a mess right now — pens, markers, papers & books are everywhere* & I guess I’ve had the same bad habit of not putting things away since my early years. You see, the type that I set my flyers & such with in print shop should have been called not upper case & lowercase, but “floor case.” Because I pied (printers’ term for spilled) more type than I set, & never went back to pick it up off the floor. I just pulled more type out of the cases. My poor print shop instructor!
*But all my Crayolas are in the box where they belong.
Production notes for #63 Upper & Lowercase:
Original size: 20x30 inches
Fonts: Garamond, Franklin
Credits for #63 Upper & Lowercase:
Job cases: Unknown
Proofreaders’ marks: Pearson Higher Education (pearsonhighered.com)
Mark-up page: Fiona Cullinan, designersinsights.com © Periodical Training Council training material.
Cover of The Frugal Editor: I designed it — see the book here.
Related article in the Printing & Publishing series:
#93 Work & Turn
For professional graphic design, please visit Desimone Design.
10 thoughts to “#63 Upper & Lowercase (do you know which “case” this refers to?)”
This is a super-awesome graphic & post! I recalled some of what you wrote from my journalism class and my time working at the newspaper in New Zealand years ago. I truly enjoy all the fascinating details and especially the information about leading…so sad, though, about the cancer.
Thank you for the wonderful work you do, Chaz! It is very much appreciated!
I always look forward to your new Amper Art. And always amazed with the store behind each new one. Another one hit out the park. My Friend
This post brought back memories of my first job as a reporter back in the days when linotypes were used to set each issue of The Salt Lake Tribune where I worked. I loved the newsroom (typewriters and rolls of newsprint paper to type on), but I loved the backshop where the type was set just as much. What a lovely (probably poisonous!) smell! And dir-r-r-ty!
I even had the good fortune to meet my husband there. He managed the placement of the advertising on each page and his desk wasn’t too far from that linotype, molten lead and all!
Oh, and thank you for including my books as part of this little history lesson! I can’t tell you how much I love them! It’s beyond words – and ampersands!
Multi Award-Winning Author of the HowToDoItFrugally series for writers including the second editions of the Frugal Book Promoter (http://bit.ly/FrugalBookPromo and The Frugal Editor (http://bit.ly/FrugalEditorKind )The latter is e‑book only.for the time being.
There’s a soap I use from time to time made with tea tree oil. It smells just like a pressroom, like printing ink. I use the soap just for the wonderful (to me) aroma! But not before a date, unless she’s a printer.
I found this interesting but not sure I understood it all. I’ll leave that up to you.
Don’t feel bad, Mary Ann. I don’t understand science. Nearly blew up the classroom once.
Excellent post, Chaz!
You just brought back some memories from my previous life as a typesetter. Being an “old school” guy, I remember the proof marks you show here. And if I remember correctly, the assembled type was put into a metal device known as a “chase.”
Very informative article. Well done!
How about these terms I read recently but had forgotten:
work & turn (hey – AmperArt!)
I <3 today’s AmperArt! I especially love the “Story Behind the Story”! and the bonus Proof Reader’s Marks.
Thanks, Debbi. Typography has always been my passion, so this was an enjoyable article to write. It’s also one of my favorite AmperArt designs; everything just fell into place (once I figured out how to evenly distribute the alphabet characters on each line).