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Slash and dot pre-digital page footer
October 28, 2010 1:47 PM   Subscribe

In typewritten documents from the pre-digital era, there was often a combination of dots and slashes (.../..., ..../, ./. etc.) at the bottom right corner of each page, either alone or with the page number. The practice seems to have disappeared once word processors took over. How was it called and what was its purpose?
posted by elgilito to Writing & Language (9 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
they were initials for who prepared the documents. I believe the order was author/admin...
posted by caddis at 1:51 PM on October 28, 2010

And, uh, we still do them at my workplace, and we get lots of documents from other places that do them, too.

Then again, on Monday morning I'll be doing data entry on our legacy mainframe, and I'm currently reviewing a report that uses asterisks and hyphens to center column titles. Ahem.

Strictly speaking we also still have typewriters... We use them to fill out preprinted forms designed before my father was out of grade school.
posted by SMPA at 1:59 PM on October 28, 2010

I'm not sure about the dots. The way it worked, as caddis says, was that the document originator/signer/dictator was indicated in caps, and the secretary in lowercase. So if Bob H. Farnsworth wanted to send a letter but Mary Sue Jennings actually typed it, it would read:


Maybe this Gregg secretarial manual at will be of help, with entries like:
the word "to" is placed, followed by the official designa-
tion of the office or official addressed. Following the
address, the subject of the correspondence should be
written across the page in the way the communication
will be indexed for filing. In acknowledging and
referring to official communications, the file number
and date be included in the "Reference." The file
number of the letter should be placed in the upper left-
hand corner about one inch from the top and one inch
from the left edge of the page, followed by the initials
of the section preparing the correspondence. Letters
should be written single space with one double space
between paragraphs. Paragraphs are to be numbered
and sub-paragraphs, lettered. The complimentary
opening and closing of the letter is omitted.
It really is interesting looking back at these analog information-handling systems, which were pretty effective really.
posted by Miko at 2:05 PM on October 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

(And caddis is right. Almost no one writes their own correspondence, and often people have signature authority for the person above them. I approve invoices on behalf of someone two levels ahead of me on the food chain, and type letters for my direct supervisor, hence the need for such conventions.)
posted by SMPA at 2:06 PM on October 28, 2010

The OP doesn't say anything about letters or initials, only dots.

Is it possible they indicate where this page falls in a multi-page set? That is, page 3 of 7 would have something like ../.... ?
posted by amtho at 2:35 PM on October 28, 2010

They were underscores for putting in the page numbers later (page x of y, page x+1 of y) by hand.
posted by theredpen at 2:37 PM on October 28, 2010

I have small press publications from the UK circa 1940s - 1970s that have something similar. At the bottom of the page is the first word of the next page followed by a slash. The last page does not have this. I believe this helped in sorting pages when they were bound. What this is called I don't know. Your dots might have a similar function.
posted by eccnineten at 2:46 PM on October 28, 2010

No, it's not made for the author/admin/secretary initials and it's not a placeholder for the page number (that is already on the page). It's really a dots-slash-dots symbol, with a fixed number of dots for a given document (all pages ../.. for instance) and something different for the last page. If anything, it looks like a "to be continued next page" symbol. In one case, the symbol is .../14 for page 13 for instance, but usually it's just dots and slash. Eccnineteen's idea seems close.
posted by elgilito at 2:53 PM on October 28, 2010

I was a typist back when "typist" was an actual occupation!

As I recall, we didn't number the first page of a letter, but on subsequent pages, we would type ".../2" or ".../3" at the bottom right of the page, just to show which page you were on, and that it was continued from a previous page.
posted by LauraJ at 11:46 AM on October 29, 2010

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