The Secret Life of Punctuation

From ancient Greece to the Internet—via the Renaissance, Gutenberg, and Madison Avenue—Keith Houston’s new book, ‘Shady Characters,’ reveals the secret history of punctuation

The Table of Contents


The Octothorpe (#)

“With zeal and rigor, Keith Houston cracks open the &, the #, the †, and more—all the little matryoshka dolls of meaning that make writing work. Inside, we meet novelists, publishers, scholars, and scribes; we range from ancient Greeks to hashtagged tweets; and we see the weird and wonderful foundations of the most successful technology of all time.” —ROBIN SLOAN, author of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

The @ Symbol
The Asterisk (*) and Dagger (†)

Daggers (†) and Double Daggers (‡)

An index of typographical marks
Typewriters and Typographers

Shady Characters: The Secret Life of Punctuation, Symbols & Other Typographical Marks by Keith Houston

Amazon  Barnes & Noble iBookstore # Indiebound Powell’s