I've noticed that historic ads often contain periods (full stops) in the headlines (this is no longer common practice). An example is a ghostsign (old faded building sign) in Cleveland, Ohio, that reads:

[Name of Company]. Millinery.

My question: When were periods commonly used in headlines and after company names, etc., and when did that come out of favor?

I've noticed that periods also sometimes appear in mastheads and newspaper headlines, historically, and that periods don't seem to show up in ads in the late 20th century or early 21st. I'd like to try to date the ads based on the punctuation. I know that David Ogilvie advised against using periods in ad headlines in the 60s.

  • Wow. Who is David Ogilvie and where did he advise this? – Arm the good guys in America Oct 28 '17 at 0:03
  • David Mackenzie Ogilvy CBE was an advertising tycoon, founder of Ogilvy & Mather, and known as the father of advertising. (Wikipedia) Author of "Confessions of An Advertising Man," 1963, an early book in the business genre. – Xanne Oct 28 '17 at 1:25
  • Sorry, I misspelled--it's David Ogilvy. He was a leading force in 20th-century advertising, and wrote a seminal 1935 manual for ad men, founded a New York agency in the 40s and wrote books on his best practices. One of his tips: Never include a period in a headline, because it encourages the reader to stop reading. The ads I've noticed with periods in them tend to be from the 19th century to early 20th century, but I have not done any formal research on this. Wondering if anyone knows when periods in headlines were common, and when they ceased to be, just as a rule of thumb. – Mary Jackson Oct 28 '17 at 1:26
  • I don't know, but here's a web page showing some vintage ads: vintageadbrowser.com – Xanne Oct 28 '17 at 6:26

The New York Times used a period at the end of their front page title until about 1967, I believe. Interesting that this just came up when our family received a book of old NYT front pages and noticed the change from 1965 to 1967. Then, I watched an episode of Father Brown which takes place in England in the 1950s. At the police station, the door to the Inspector's office had his name with a period at the end. Seems very odd, but we clearly do not use this method today. I wonder why they felt they needed to do it then.

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