Blue Pencil no. 53—The Tale of the Tittle

“The Parts of a Letter” by Doyald Young. Note that there is no i and thus no mention of a dot or tittle.

We need to expunge the word tittle from the typographic lexicon. Although the word has a long history in the English language, especially in religion, literature and political discourse, its typographic meaning is principally a 21st century creation. It is a coinage based on false erudition, one that is increasingly being accepted by those eager to show off their nerdiness and those who simply enjoy snickering at apparently naughty words. [1] We don’t need fratboy lingo in the world of typography [2].

What follows is my attempt to trace the history of tittle and its meanings. I have used word searches within texts in Hathitrust and within individual books in Google Books, along with an online image search of typographic posters and charts. The Hathitrust search turned up 384,366 uses of tittle between 1450 and 2020 [2]. The overwhelming majority of them can be traced back to the Bible or English authors active before 1700.

Here is a selection of dictionary definitions over time, none of which mention tittle as part of the letter i.

Dictionary definitions
A Dictionary, Latin-English… by Elisha Coles (London: Printed by John Richardson, for Peter Parker, at the Leg and Star over the Royal Exchange; and Thomas Guy, at the Corner Shop of Little Lumbard-Street and Cornhill, 1679), Second edition enlarged, n.p. “Tittle (a speck), Punctum.”

A Dictionary, English-Latin and Latin-English… by Elisha Coles (London: Printed by Free. Collins, for R. Chiswell, C. Harper, J. Sprint, D. Browne, A. and J. Churchill, J. Walthne, M. Wootten, G. Coyners, J. Nicholson, D. Midwinter, T. Ballard, J. Place, and S. Battersby, 1711), Seventh edition enlarged, n.p. “A Tittle, punctum, iota.

A Dictionary of the English Language… by Samuel Johnson (London: Printed by W. Strahan, for J. and P. Knapton; T. and T. Longman; C. Hitch and L. Hawes; A. Millar, and R and J. Dodsley, 1755), vol. I, n.p. “DOT. A small point or spot made to mark any place in a writing.”; n.p. “JOT. A point; a tittle. The least quantity assignable.”

Volume II is not available online, but the 1768 third edition says, “TITTLE. A small particle; a point; a dot.”  Johnson’s citations include John Milton and Jonathan Swift.

Detail from A Dictionary of the English language: In Which the Words are Deduced from their Originals, and Illustrated in Their Different Significations by Examples from the Best Writers. To Which Are Prefixed, a History of the Language, and an English Grammar by Samuel Johnson (London: Printed by W. Strahan, 1755), vol. II, n.p. Tittle is at the top of the righthand column.

An American Dictionary of the English Language…  by Noah Webster (New York: S. Converse, 1828), vol. I, p. 16 under Aught has “2. Any part, the smallest; a jot or tittle.” The second volume is not online, but here is the definition of tittle in the 1832 edition, p. 843, “Tittle: A small particle; a minute part; a jot; an iota.”

Chambers’s Etymological Dictionary of the English Language edited by James Donald (London and Edinburgh: W. & R. Chambers, 1872), p. 522—“Tittle, a small particle; an iota.”  The 1904 edition (edited by Andrew Findlater) also has p. 367—”Pecadillo, a tittle; or trifling sin: a petty fault.”

Chambers’s Etymological Dictionary of the English Language edited by James Donald (London and Edinburgh: W. & R. Chambers, 1872), p. 522. Tittle is in the lefthand column.

The online Oxford University dictionary defines tittle as “a tiny amount of something.” It continues: “archaic—a small written or printed stroke or dot, indicating omitted letters in a word.”  This is reminiscent of the stenographic definition of a tittle noted above.

The online Merriam-Webster dictionary defines tittle as “1. a point or small sign used as a diacritical mark in printing or writing.; 2. a very small part.”

The Morning-Exercise against Popery Or, the Principal Errors of the Church of Rome… (London: Printed by A. Maxwell for Tho. Parkhurst, at the Bible and Three Crowns in Cheapside near Mercers-Chappel, and at the Bible within the Gate on London-Bridge, 1675), p. 551 “Who so shall keep the whole Law, and yet offend in one point, i.e. willingly, constantly, and with allowance from Conscience, though but in the least tittle, he is guilty of all, i.e. is liable to the same punishment, stands upon no better terms of hope and acceptance with God, than if he had done nothing at all.”

Regulae Trium Ordinum Literarum Typographicarum: or the Rules of the Three Orders of Print Letters… by Joseph Moxon (London: Printed for Joseph Moxon, on Ludgate Hill at the Sign of Atlas, 1676), p. 28 “The Stem of i is made like the Stem of h but it is not so long, for it stands between Parallel 12 and 30. The Tittle stands right over the Stem, half a Stem lower than the Top-line, and its Diameter is one Stem, viz., 3 1/2 parts.” and “The Stem and Tittle of this j is made like i.”

The Decisions of the Lord of Council & Session… (Edinburgh: Printed by the Heir of andrew Anderson, Printer to His most Sacred Majesty; and sold by George Mossman in the Parliament-Closs near the Exchange, 1687), p. 736, “The Defenders alledged that they were Insest in their Burgh and burrow-lands cum piscariis, and by verue thereof have ben fourty years in possession of Salmond-fishing in tis Pool, and though their Instestment bear not expressly Salmond fishing, yet it is a Tittle for Prescription of a Salmond-fishing, as well as an Insestment in Baronia, both being nomina universitatis; and the Pursuer is only Insest in his Lands…”

The Whole Art of Short and Swift Writing… (London: 1715), Third edition, p. 9 “When 2 Vowels must both be expressed in the middle of a word, put a small tittle in the 1st Vowel’s place to the foregoing Consonant (that is, in one of the 5 abovementioned  places, which corresponds to the 1st Vowel of the Two, about the character you writ last)[.] And then put the Consonant that follows the 2d Vowel, in place of the 2d Vowel to that tittle. For one may distinguish 5 different places as well about even a small tittle, as one may about any Character.”; p. 734 “The Scripture is not for Transubstantiation in the Lords supper, but is fully against it, and condemns it; we have only the words of Papists for it, but there is not one tittle of the good Word of God for it; but although there is no Ordinance of Worship more fully and plainly delivered from Christ in the Scriptures, than this of the Lords Supper, yet therein is not the least Foundation of Transubstantiation, but God faith in effect of it as he did of that abomination of the Jews…”

Paradis Regain’d, A Poem in Four Books… by John Milton (London: Printed for Jacob Tonson in the Strand, 1727), p. 21 “What to the smallest tittle thou shalt say / To they Adorers; thou with trembling fear / Or like a fawning Parasite obey’st…”

Stenography, or Short-hand… by R. Tailor (Edinburgh: Printed for the author, 1791) uses the word multiple times. Here are a few instances, all of which describe tittles as small marks that are not limited to the letter i:

p. 15 “In the other hand the characters are not of different lengths or sizes, but the same character stands for a different letter, if a tittle be placed over or under it; or if the character which I make for s be joined at the end of it; the vowels are all characteristically expressed in both hands.”

p. 19 “According to this alphabet, a tittle must be made for a, e and i at the beginning of a word, when they precede d or t.”

p. 22 “E Being the first letter of a word, is signified by a tittle, set even with the middle of the following letter, as in egg, even, ever.”

O Is written in three ways: at the beginning of a word, as is odly, in the middle, and at the end of a word, as cog, dog, dot, to, go, no, who; this o is made, and joins letters like s, only the turn of the pen must be so short, or close, as to make it appear like a small tittle; but where this tittle cannot be made in the middle of a word, a straight alphabetical o must, as in probe, prove, rover.”

U At the beginning of a word, is signified by a tittle, close over the top of the following character, as in ugly, up; but the tittle must be put under b and v.”

A Plea for the Unity of American Socialists by George D. Herron (Chicago: Unity Library, 1900), p. 6 “As a socialist, I believe I can be true to my comrades only by taking the position that I will let no man under the skies make me his personal enemy. At the same time, I will let no man take from me one jot or tittle; of the philosophy and principle upon which socialism bases itself.”

A Critical Fable by A Poker of Fun [Amy Lowell] (Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin and Company, 1922), p. viii “Having read me so far, you will ask, I am certain, for just a stray peep round the edge of the curtain I have carefully hung up between us, but this is, Gentle Reader, the one of all my prejudices I would not depart from by even a tittle. Suppose, for a moment, the author’s a little just-out-of-the-egg sort of fellow — why then, would you care half a jot what fell from his pen? Supposing, for naturally you must suppose at least something or other, he’s (under the rose) a personage proper, whose judgments are wont to sway many opinions, would you dare to confront so seasoned a reasoning with your own reflections?”

A Dictionary of Modern English Usage by H.W. Fowler (Oxford: At the Clarendon Press’ London: Humphrey Milford, 1926), p. 69 “Idiom is conservative, standing in the ancient ways, insisting that its property is sacrosanct, permitting no jot or tittle of alteration in the shape of its phrases.” There is no definition of tittle.

There are two significant instances of tittle being used to refer to the dot of i, both are in the works of Joseph Moxon. However, following Moxon, the only instances I uncovered of tittle used to refer to the dot of the i (or j) is in Typographia by Thomas Hansard in 1825—and then in the 21st century.

Regulae Trium Ordinum Literarum Typographicarum: or the Rules of the Three Orders of Print Letters… by Joseph Moxon (London: Printed for Joseph Moxon, on Ludgate Hill at the Sign of Atlas, 1676), p. 28 “The Stem of i is made like the Stem of h but it is not so long, for it stands between Parallel 12 and 30. The Tittle stands right over the Stem, half a Stem lower than the Top-line, and its Diameter is one Stem, viz., 3 1/2 parts.” and “The Stem and Tittle of this j is made like i.”

Mechanick Exercises: or, the Doctrine of Handy-Works. Applied to the Art of Printing by Joseph Moxon (London: Printed for Joseph Moxon, 1683), vol. II, pp. 174–175. Tittle occurs on the first line of p. 175. Image courtesy of The Grolier Club.

Mechanick Exercises: or, the Doctrine of Handy-Works. Applied to the Art of Printing by Joseph Moxon (1683), vol. II, pp. 174–175 “If the Leter be a small Body, it requires a Harder Shake than a great Body does: Or if it be a thin Letter though of a greater Body, especially small i, being a thin Letter its Tittle will hardly come; So that sometimes the caster is forced to put a little Block-Tin into his Mettal, which makes the Mettal Thinner, and consequently have a freer flux to the Face of the Matrice.”

Volume II also includes a dictionary of terms. Tittle is not among them. See p. 392.

Typographia: an Historical Sketch of the Origin and Progress of the Art of PrintingWith Practical Directions for Conducting Every Department in an Office: with a Description of Stereotype and Lithography. Illustrated by Engravings, Biographical Notices, and Portraits by Thomas Hansard (London: Baldwin, Cradock and Joy, 1825), p. 368. Tittle appears in line 7.

Typographia by Thomas Hansard (London: Baldwin, Cradock and Joy, 1825), p. 368 “The paper and types of Sweynheim and Pannartz are both excellent. The great singularity of the latter was, that they did not place the dot or tittle; over the i; and at the end of words they put the long s.”

A diligent search of the literature of printing, typography, and typefounding between 1826 and 2009 turned up absolutely zero instances of the tittle being used to refer to the dot of an i or j. In fact, there are very few examples of tittle appearing in any context in the great majority of the works I examined. Among those I investigated are:

Dictionary of the Art of Printing
by William Savage (London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, 1841), p. 595 “The tittle, or little dash, which the Portuguese call til, is set by them over some letters instead of m….”
Ironically, Savage says that one should not rely on Moxon. See his comments on p. 244 where he disputes Moxon’s use of fund as the proper word for fount.

The Printer’s Grammar by John Smith (London: 1755).

1764 & 1766
Manual Typographique (2 vols.) by Pierre-Simon Fournier le jeune (Paris: Chez Barbou, 1764 and 1766). There is nothing regarding the tittle in the English translation made by Harry Carter in 1930 or the commentary added by James Mosley in 1995.

A Concise History of the Origin and Progress of Printing; with Practical Instructions to the Trade in General by Philip Luckombe (London:W. Adlard and J. Browne, 1770). Tittle appears in the righthand column.

A Concise History of the Origin and Progress of Printing… by Philip Luckombe (London: Printed and sold by W. Adlard and J. Browne in Fleet-Street, 1770), p. 485—“Tittle, a speck.”

Les Caracteres et les Vignettes de la Fonderie Du Sieur Delacolonge (Lyon: Montée & près les Carmelites, 1773). Tittle does not appear in the 1969 facsimile edited by Harry Carter and Netty Hoeflake.

Dissertation upon English Typographical Founders and Founderies by Edward Rowe Mores (London: n.p, 1778). A facsimile edited by Daniel Berkeley Updike (1924) is available online.

Typographia, or The Priner’s Instructor by John Johnson (London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, Brown & Green, 1824), 2 vols.

A Dictionary of Printers and Printing by C.H. Timperley (London: H. Johnson, 1839). Timperley mentions tittle twice:

p. 109 “John Mentilius, a physician at Paris, has strenuously defended the cause of his namesake of Strasberg; but his endeavours have not advanced the cause of Mentilius one tittle beyond what had been done by his predecessors.”

p. 935 “Whether his [Blackwood’s] principles were right or wrong, they were his, and he never compromised or complimented away one tittle of them.”

Treatises on Printing and Type-Founding by Thomas Hansard (Edinburgh: Adam & Charles Black, 1841). Note that this is the same author who used tittle to refer to the dot on the i in 1825.

The American Printer… by Thomas Mackellar (Philadelphia: L. Johnson & Company, 1866).

A Dictionary of Typography and Its Accessory Arts by John Southward (London: Joseph M.Powell, 1871).

American Encyclopaedia of Printing edited by J. Luther Ringwalt (Philadelphia: Menamin & Ringwalt; J.B. Lippincott & Co., 1871).

History of the Old English Letter Foundries… by Talbot Baines Reed (London: Elliot Stock, 1887).

The Printers’ Vocabulary: A Collection of Some 2500 Technical Terms, Phrases, Abbreviations and other Expressions Mostly Relating to Letterpress Printing, Many of which Have Been in Use since the Time of Caxton by Charles Jacobi (London; The Chiswick Press, 1888). The 1913 edition also makes no mention of tittle.

American Dictionary of Printing and Bookmaking… by W.W. Pasko (New York: Howard  Lockwood & Company, Publishers, 1894).

Modern Printing… by John Southward (London: Raithby, Lawrence & Company, 1899).

The Practice of Typography: A Treatise on the Processes of Type-Making, the Point System, the Names, Sizes, Styles and Prices of Plain Printing Types by Theodore Low De Vinne (New York: The Century Co., 1899).

Typographical Printing-Surfaces: The Technology and Mechanism of their Production by Lucien Alphonse Legros and John Cameron Grant (London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1916).

Printing Types: Their History, Forms, and Use; A Study in Survivals by Daniel Berkeley Updike (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1922), 2 vols.

Diagram from “Towards a Nomenclature for Letter Forms” by Joseph Thorp in The Monotype Recorder (April–May 1931). Note the presence of i without its dot labeled.

“Towards a Nomenclature for Letter Forms” by Joseph Thorp in The Monotype Recorder (April–May 1931).

Type Designs: Their History and Development by A.F. Johnson (London: Grafton & Co., 1934). Tittle is also absent from the 1959 and 1966 editions.

The Printer’s Terms: English, French, German, Italian, and Dutch by Rudolf Hostettler. Tittle is also absent from later editions of the book retitled Technical Terms of the Printing Industry.

“Typeface Nomenclature” in B.S. 2961 (London: British Standards Institution, 1958). The 1967 revised British Standard also lacks any mention of tittle.

Glossary of the Book… by Geoffrey Ashall Glaister (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1960). Later editions of Glaister’s Glossary of the Book (as it was retitled) make no mention of tittle either.

An Approach to Type by John R. Biggs (London: Blandford Press, 1961). Dot does not appear either in his illustrations of letterform terminology.

A View of Early Typography up to about 1600 by Harry Carter (Oxford: At the Clarendon Press, 1969).

Selected Essays on Books and Printing by A.F. Johnson, edited by Percy H. Muir (Amsterdam: Van Gendt & Co., 1970).

A New Introduction to Bibliography by Philip Gaskell (Oxford: At the Clarendon Press, 1972). None of the later editions include tittle.

Designing with Type: A Basic Course in Typography by James Craig (New York: Watson-Guptill Publications, 1974). The book was in its 5th edition in 2006, but still without a mention of tittle. Craig also ignores dot as a term.

“Minuscules” diagram from “A Nomenclature for the Letterforms of Roman Type” by Philip Gaskell in Visible Language vol. X, no. 1 (Winter 1976). Note the dot on i on the left page.

Visible Language X:1 (Winter) “A Nomenclature for the Letterforms of Roman Type” by Philip Gaskell. Gaskell writes, “Most of Moxon’s terms have been superseded by new ones, and there is today a generally accepted, though until now not fully codified, system of nomenclature for the letterforms of roman type used in the English-speaking countries.” (p. 41) I think Gaskell is wrong about things being “fully codified” in 1976 or even today in 2022, but his point about Moxon being antiquated is relevant to my discussion of tittle. Gaskell labels the dot of an i as a dot in his illustration, but both dot and tittle are absent from his glossary of terms on pp. 43–44.

Untitled letterform terminology chart by Ed Benguiat. It shows the top portion of two italic i‘s, but neither has a dot. However, the spur of the serif on a capital E is labeled a tittle.

U&lc vol. 11, no. 4 (February 1985), p. 21 “Parts of a Character” includes an i but does not identify the dot.

La Typographie au Tableau Noir [Typography on the Blackboard] by Fernand Baudin (Paris: Retz, 1984).

The Art of Typography: An Introduction to Typo.icon.ography… by Martin Solomon (New York: Watson-Guptill Publications, 1986). Solomon’s terminology diagram is missing i and thus there is neither a dot nor a tittle.

The Thames & Hudson Manual of Typography by Ruari McLean (London: Thames & Hudson, 1980).

How Typography Works: And Why It Is Important by Fernand Baudin (London: Lund Humphries, 1989). The cover has a series of lowercase i‘s, but there is no reference to the dot or tittle.

Anatomy of a Typeface by Alexander Lawson (Boston: David R. Godine, Publisher, 1990).

The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst (Vancouver, British Columbia and Point Roberts, Washington: Hartley & Marks, 1992). It is telling that Bringhurst, who has helped popularize such previously esoteric terms such as pilcrow and octothorp, does not include tittle in any edition of his typography manual. The 4th edition was issued in 2012.

Logotypes & Letterforms: Handlettered Logotypes and Typographic Considerations by Doyald Young (New York: Design Press, 1993).

Fonts & Logos:Font Analysis, Logotype Design, Typography, Type Comparison by Doyald Young (Pasadena, California: Delphi Press, 1999). Young was very careful in his writing and teaching, yet neither of his books identifies the dot of the i as a tittle.

A Dictionary of Punchcutters for Printing Types [draft] by James Mosley. This is an unpublished document that Mosley has circulated among a small number of type historians.

A Type Primer by John Kane (New York: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 2002). Kane’s diagrams do not include i. Tittle is also missing from the 2011 edition.

The Complete Manual of Typography by James Felici (Berkely, California: Peachpit Press, 2002). Oddly, Felici describes the ball terminal of a Bodoni a as a dot but makes no mention of the dot of an i.

Thinking with Type: A Primer for Designers: A Critical Guide for Designers, Writers, Editors, & Students by Ellen Lupton (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2004). Dot and tittle are missing from this and the 2010 edition.

Type and Typography by Phil Baines and Andrew Haslam (London: Laurence King Publishing, 2005).

“Type Nomenclature” by Kate Wolff. Unpublished document used for teaching students in Basel. Wolff has neither dot in English nor punkt in German

Typographic Desk Reference by Theodore Rosendorf (New Castle, Delaware: Oak Knoll Books, 2009). Tittle is also absent from the 2016 updated and revised edition.

Typographic Design: Form and Communication by Rob Carter, Ben Day and Philip Meggs (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1985). A 7th edition with additional authors Sandra Maxa and Mark Sanders was issued in 2018. None of the editions includes tittle.

Typography Referenced?: A Comprehensive Visual Guide to the Language, History, and Practice of Typography by Allan Haley, Gerry Leonidas, Richard Poulin, Ina Saltz, Tony Seddon, and Jason Tslentis (Beverly, Massachusetts: Rockport Publishers, 2012).

The Anatomy of Type by Stephen Coles (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2012). “Type Anatomy in Six Letters” online has no i.

The Field Guide to Typography: Typefaces in the Urban Landscape by Pete Dawson (New York: Prestel, 2013). Both dot and tittle are missing.

Shady Characters by Keith Houston (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2013). p. 181 “Tittle—a scribal mark that involved into the tilde; also a small horizontal stroke through a letter indicating an abbreviation.” Houston’s definition harks back to the stenographic meaning of the word.

Studying Early Printed Books,  1450-1800: A Practical Guide by Sarah Werner (Wiley, 2019).

After Hansard’s 1825 use of tittle to refer to the dot of i, I am unable to find another such use until the second decade of the 21st century.

Design Elements, Fundamentals of Typography by Kristin Cullen (Beverly, Massachusetts: Rockport Publishers, 2010). p. 35 “A dot (tittle) is the rounded mark above the lowercase i and j.” and p. 51 “…the dot (tittle) of the i….” Where did Cullen get her definition of tittle from?

Screenshot of blocked pages in preview of Letterforms: Typeface Design: Past to the Future by Timothy Samara (Beverly, Massachusetts: Rockport Publishers, 2018).

Letterforms: Typeface Design: Past to the Future by Timothy Samara (Beverly, Massachusetts: Rockport Publishers, 2018), pp. 155, 156 and 161 provide advice on designing the tittle of the i in terms of shape and position.

Designing Type by Karen Cheng (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2020), 2nd edition, p. 32 “dot or tittle” appears as part of Cheng’s section on terminology of letterform parts.

One place where the presence of tittle has proliferated in the past dozen years is in online charts of typographic terminology. Many of these charts are far more detailed than previous books on typography and type design.

“Anatomia Tipográfica” poster chart by Pedro Amado and Ana Catarina Silva. They list both dot and tittle, with the former being placed first.

“Typographic anatomy diagram” by Benedict Richards reproduced as a page in a book. It was originally a B2 poster (2016).

“Typographic Anatomy Design” chart by Graphica (Benedict Richards). It has both dot and tittle, with the former being placed first.

“Gravestone Letterform Anatomy” chart by Lynne Baggett is not a chart geared toward type, but her terminology has been influenced by advice from type designers such as Sumner Stone, Matthew Carter, and myself. Baggett lists both dot and tittle.

“The Taxonomy of Typography” chart (popchartlab) cites only tittle.

“Typography Terms” chart by FontSmith. “Tittle—the dot on the i and j.”

The upshot of all of these references is this. Tittle clearly was not a part of the common lexicon of printing, typography, and type design until 2010 despite Moxon’s early use of the term. The general use of the term means something very small, often a mark used in editing or shorthand. [4] It has been interchangeable with jot or dot. [5] Dot has been used to describe the mark above the stem of lowercase i far longer and more often than tittle has. [6] Why not keep using this common and commonly understood word (used both by professionals and laymen), instead of reintroducing an archaic word, especially one that seems to be popular today principally for its unfair but salacious association with tit and titty. We don’t need tittle. Its current use represents a display of false erudition. If type designers really need a specialized term for the dot of i (and j), then I would propose iota. It has the same meaning as tittle and it links the lowercase i to its historical forebear in the Greek alphabet. [7]

“Terminology” (p. 15) by Paul Shaw and Abby Goldstein from Revival Types: Digital Typefaces Inspired by the Past by Paul Shaw (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2017). Note the shape of the dot of the i. This is the second of three pages devoted to letterform terminology. Although still lacking some terms (and badly in need of definitions), they are the most comprehensive guide currently available.

Notes and comments
1. See my 23 June 2014 blog post “The Nomenclature of Letter Forms: A Brief Review of the Literature” regarding the contemporary mania for labeling every part of every letter. I think this desire has been driven by the widespread ability to design typefaces.
2. I am not against the use of crotch to describe the negative space where an arch or bowl meets the stem of a letter. Crotch has many common usages beyond a reference to the genitals such as the crotch of a tree. However, I would avoid using nipple (as Ed Benguiat does in his 1982 chart) to refer to the end of the bar of a Venetian Oldstyle e when it extends beyond the bowl. I prefer nose.
3. It should be noted that these results include tittle-tattle, people surnamed Tittle, and OCR errors (e.g. little and title being mistaken for tittle.)
4. See Stenography, or Short-hand… by R. Tailor (Edinburgh: Printed for the author, 1791) above, among many titles that came up in my Hathitrust search. It should be noted that when the minuscule i appeared as part of the Carolingian script in the late 8th century that it had no dot. A thin, diagonal mark was added to the letter during the Middle Ages when it was difficult to distinguish it from m, n, or u in a word written in textura. Gutenberg’s B-42 type sported a thin semi-circle (like a fingernail clipping) above the stem of the i. These marks fit neatly with the stenographic definition of tittle and might explain how Moxon came to use the term.
5. The King James Bible treats jot and tittle as interchangeable: “For verily I say to you, Till heaven and earth shall pass away, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” Matthew 5:18. If we really need to use tittle then perhaps it can refer to the dot of i while jot refers to the dot of j. Then, when we discuss their designs in a given typeface, we can say that “it does not matter a jot or a tittle, they are the same”.
6. A dot does not have to be round. The first definition (of four) in Merriam-Webster online is “1. a small spot; speck.” And the second definition of speck is “a very small amount” which brings us back to the general definition of tittle. (See Chambers’s Etymological Dictionary of the English Language above).
7.Webster’s New World College Dictionary, 4th Edition (Houghton Mifflin, 2010) defines iota as “1. the ninth letter of the Greek alphabet (I, i); 2. “a very small quantity; jot.” Its synonyms include jot and tittle.