The Press: Etaoin Shrdlu

Newspaper readers occasionally encounter in the day's news the following cryptogram: "etaoin shrdlu etaoin shrdlu etaoin shrdlu." It is obviously some sort of typographical error, but what must have puzzled many an alert layman is the regularity of the error's spelling. It always, somehow, turns into "etaoin shrdlu."

Last week, noticing that the Literary Digest had reprinted an "etaoin shrdlu" line, apparently as a joke but without bothering to explain the mystery to its readers, the ever-practical New York World explained editorially for laymen what every newsman knows.

When a linotype operator makes an error he has to complete that line of type...

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