Blogging from A to Z: E is for...Etaoin shrdlu

Etaoin shrdlu!

No, I'm not typing drunk. And no, Etaoin shrdlu is not a Gaelic curse word or the name of an elf in a new story I'm working on. It's not something offensive written backwards and it won't summon magical beasties if you say it while waving your arms around. (I think. I haven't actually tried that last one. Let me know if I need to put a magic disclaimer in here.)

What it IS though is a nonsense phrase...yeah, no kidding...common in the old days of newspaper publishing when Linotype machines were used.

So...not QWERTY then...

Back in the days before computers, and other newfangled technology like indoor toilets, Linotype machines were used to print newspapers, magazines and the like and the first two columns on the left hand side of the keyboard are...etaion and shrdlu. And the reason for the order is as simple as letter frequency: e is the most used letter, followed by t, a, i and so on.

 Pic courtesy of Al Silonov via Wikimedia Commons

So, much like QWERTY is synonymous with today's keyboards, Etaoin shrdlu was the old timey equivalent.

For more information on the linotype contraption you can check out this link:

That was E in the A to Z Blog Challenge. Come back tomorrow for F. And in the meantime go to and check out some of the other bloggers.



  1. I am one of the minions helping with the #Challenge this year. Stopping by to see how you are doing. My father was a printer/typographer in Chicago and became quite famous. I was meant to read your post today. Thanks for all the hard work it takes to participate. I wish I could sweet talk you into dumping the black background. Even in this pretty blue type face, it is hard to read. Would be interested in WHY you picked the background/ Edgy? Cool? Hip? Smart? You just plain like it! I support you 100% in the idea if it isn't broke, don't fix it, but this fresh eye to your blog votes for a new background color. See what new blogging friends can do....have an uninvited opinion. As you read all the blogs for the #Challenge, check out the readability and what bugs you. See you again another day.

  2. Hi Stepheny, thanks for stopping by! :) Thanks for all your input. I'd like to say the black background was chosen to be cool, but it was chosen for simplicity's sake and I just haven't attempted to update it. I'll try some other colors and see what grabs me.

    Very cool hearing about your father being a printer. I know exactly as much as you read here today about it lol Not much. :)

  3. Ha! I waved my arms while chanting etaoin shrdlu. Nothing. Except for enjoying the moment of doing so. How fun it would be to own a linotype machine.
    The View from the Top of the Ladder

  4. Really enjoyed reading about the old linotype machines. What a fabulous contraption! I'd love to play with one but don't think that my mom would appreciate having the thing in her living room, blocking her TV. Heck, it's more entertaining than a TV and, since I never could find a journalism job, I could be a journalism job, lol (late night commenting is definitely stream of consciousness).


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