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Q: -30- at the bottom of press releases ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   1 Comment )
Subject: -30- at the bottom of press releases
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: nep-ga
List Price: $5.00
Posted: 18 Oct 2002 13:52 PDT
Expires: 17 Nov 2002 12:52 PST
Question ID: 83212
At the end of press releases and news stories, you often see the
number -30-.  What does this mean?  Why is this used?  Where did it
come from?
Subject: Re: -30- at the bottom of press releases
Answered By: voila-ga on 18 Oct 2002 18:36 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hi nep!

Thanks for the newspaper-related question.  I happen to be a print
mediaphile from way back.  As a child, my mother read us the newspaper
instead of bedtime stories.  I think she was the original multi-tasker
as we never gave the poor woman a moment's peace.  Looking back, I
think it was her way of grounding us in a healthy dose of cynicism.

A very short answer on the meaning of -30-; it signifies to a print
editor the end of a reporter's copy.

The origins of -30-, however, are in dispute but I'll be happy to
supply a few of them and let you make up your own mind.

The most plausible explanation is from this website and dates back to
the Civil War:

"According to Webster's New World Dictionary of Media and
Communications, the symbol may have come from the use by telegraphers
of three X's, also the Roman numeral for 30, to signify the end of a
dispatch. Or it may have started as an indication of the number of
words in a dispatch. The first press dispatches from Civil War
battlefields ended with 30, by then the standard signoff. The symbol
also may have stood for the amount of time during which reporters were
allowed to use the military-controlled telegraph lines during the
Civil War. The "30" at the end of the dispatch told telegraphers at
the receiving end that the dispatch was completed and that time was

This website lists a variety of origins for -30- as they were passed
down in newspaper lore.  Pick your favorite here:

Additional Links of Interest:

American Journalism Review:

Journalism Net:

Tools for Print Journalists:

Columbia School of Journalism:

The Slot/How to Become a Copy Editor:


Nep, I thank you for your question as it gave me a reason to revisit a
couple of my favorite writers at Epinions who wrote on this very
subject.  I bet you'll enjoy their writing style as well. (I hope this isn't Mikey's
personal -30-.)


If you had a difficult time locating this information, it may be due
to the fact that search engines don't recognize numbers all that well.
 After re-reading these two pieces at Epinions, and using Google, I
found the above  information entering:

So, nep, if you'll give me the 411 plotline on "Winnie the Pooh," we
can call this even. ;-)

I hope this information has satisfied your curiosity.  I must say it's
certainly been one of my more enjoyable research projects. If you'd
like any further clarification, please don't hesitate to ask before
rating my answer. Thanks very much for using our service and do come
back again!


Clarification of Answer by voila-ga on 18 Oct 2002 21:14 PDT
Here are a few more links that lend credence to the telegrapher theory
and thanks denco-ga for the additional links.

"30 on 30" The Oakland Tribune (-30- actually *predates* the Civil

More on the Phillips Code 

The Dead Media Project:
nep-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
Thanks very much -- many theories here to think about, I see.

Subject: Re: -30- at the bottom of press releases
From: denco-ga on 18 Oct 2002 18:45 PDT
(and others...)

28. What is the origin of "-30-" at the end of some press releases?

The "-30-" is the traditional journalistic closing which probably came
to be during the Civil War when telegraphers tapped "XXX" at the end
a transmission, which is the Roman numeral for 30.

This symbol is typed at the end of a newspaper story to denote the
end of that piece of copy. The origin of this practice is unknown,
although several stories attempt to explain it.

The most popular story places the origin of 30 in the Civil War
period when news was transmitted by telegraph. The first message
sent to a press association in the U.S. contained thirty words,
and so its sender, as was the practice, indicated this with the
number 30 at the end. The 30 was retained for all telegraphed news, 
and eventually, for news stories in general.

Other theories reported in William Metz's Newswriting: From Lead
to "30," maintain that 30 evolved from the symbol XXX, which was
placed at the end of the very early, handwritten news items. The
symbol, interpreted as a Roman numeral, became, naturally, 30.

Still others have related the origin of 30 to an early typesetting
practice that used the symbol to indicate the end of a line; the
original Associated Press quota of 30 items per newspaper per day;
and a reporter who added his name, Thirtee, to the end of a
telegraphed message, which was changed by the telegrapher to 30. Some
writers use the symbol 30 to indicate the end of an article; others
three number marks (i.e., # # #); still others simply type The End.

How did news and wire jargon come to be?

Author: Louis M. Perez
Published: May 21, 1998
Last Updated: May 20, 1999

Book review

"Wirespeak: Codes and Jargon of the News Business," $14.95 plus $3
shipping, by Richard M. Harnett, Shorebird Press, 555 Laurel Ave.
San Mateo CA 94401


One of the more intriguing chapters in the book is on the origin of
as the symbol of a story’s conclusion. With the departure of paper
our newsrooms, I doubt it’s much used anymore — unless some romantics
our midst have figured out a way to program it to their save-get keys
without bringing the system down.

While acknowledging that the derivation of "30" can’t be proven,
Harnett cites Associated Press historians in declaring that the
symbol had its beginnings in the numbers code created by telegraph
operators. But why 30? Good stories abound. The best ones are
hilarious, having their roots, shockingly, in taverns. The more
plausible versions, though, are
(1) the telegraphers needed a number to end a story and 30 was it, or
(2) they used an "XI" to end a sentence, two "Xs" to end a paragraph
and three "Xs" (the Roman numeral for 30) to end a story.

Search: "origin of -30-"


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