As you might have guessed from my articles on the pilcrow, I have rather a soft spot for this particular mark of punctuation. And though I wasn’t brave enough to emulate Eric Gill’s use of the pilcrow to demarcate paragraphs here on Shady Characters, I read with interest about the recent efforts of two separate web developers to civilise the unruly state of paragraphing on the web.
First, Nathan C. Ford writes at length about the online habit of separating paragraphs with blank lines, decrying the disconnected “islands of thought” that result from this practice. Although acknowledging this may be appropriate for certain forms of text — news stories, for example, where each paragraph is dedicated to a separate fact — Ford goes on to practise what he preaches, providing a bookmarklet to instantly convert blank-line paragraphs to the more traditional indented system.
Next, though, I read with glee a tweet by one Justin Stach, who, in reply to Ford’s article, says simply: “I couldn’t resist making a pilcrow version.” Instead of indenting paragraphs, Stach’s “Pilcrow It!” bookmarklet runs them together and separates them with a single, proud red pilcrow. It works brilliantly on the majority of pages at Shady Characters, and I encourage you to give it a try!
On the subject of Eric Gill, John Boardley of I Love Typography mentions an exhibition of Gill’s typography at Tama Art University in Tokyo. If that’s a little far afield for you, the Special Collections department of the Library of the University of Amsterdam is currently showing The printed book: a visual history, an exhibition “devoted to printers’ manuals, illuminating the printing process, and also to type specimens and writing masters’ copybooks, placing letterforms in a broader context.” Neither exhibition, unfortunately, is previewed in detail on their respective websites, but if you can make it, both look to be well worth a visit.