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We're very excited for the forthcoming launch of Technology Entrepreneurship. We're sorry not to have gotten in touch lately - we've been busy generating lots of content, and the system is working really well. Unfortunately, there are still a few administrative i's to dot and t's to cross. We're still hopeful that we'll go live very soon - we hope not more than a few weeks late.

What do "i's" and "t's" mean in that sentence respectively?

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closed as general reference by Hugo, Brendon, MετάEd, FumbleFingers, RegDwigнt Jan 24 '12 at 9:56

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

    
The idea of the biblical phrase "every jot and tittle" is that not even the smallest detail will go unaddressed. The letter i is the smallest in the Latin alphabet. The titule, the dot over it, is the smallest component part; the smallest of the small. It is this seminal attention to jot and tittle which inevitably fixed such strong attention to the letters i and t and, as something of an ironic corruption (or inattention to detail), gave rise to the phrase about which you query. –  Tom Raywood Jan 23 '12 at 0:03
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2 Answers 2

up vote 8 down vote accepted

To "dot the i's and cross the t's" is an idiom meaning to be very thorough and meticulous in details, to take care of everything that needs to be taken care of. The "i's and t's" are just examples of small things that need to be done to make them complete: an "i" without a dot or a "t" without a cross stroke wouldn't be much of a letter.

The Wiktionary entry on this particular idiom can be found here.

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Well, except in Turkish, where dotless I is common. –  Jon Purdy Jan 23 '12 at 3:07
    
@JonPurdy if it doesn't have a dot (and it's lower case) it's not an "i" surely, but something else. –  slim Jan 23 '12 at 11:45
    
@slim: Hardly. The dots over i, j, and y are a 12th-century invention that has been obsolete since we stopped writing in Blackletter in the 1600s—well, in the 1940s if you happen to be German. –  Jon Purdy Jan 23 '12 at 13:53

I believe it is a metaphor based upon cursive, where the continuous writing of all letters in each word does not allow for some components of each character to be written at the same time as the main body of the character.

When writing in cursive, a common procedure after finishing each word is to go back to the start of that word and add those missing components, such as the dot and cross sections of the i and t letters respectively. More experienced writers occasionally prefer to perform this procedure for larger sections of text, in order to reduce the slight speed impact of moving their hand back and forth.

Until this post-processing happens, the text is still mostly readable, but not really complete.

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