101 Series: What does # # # mean at the end of a press release?
Number sign, pound sign, #, hashtag.
On Twitter, the number sign (#) denotes a hashtag. However, when used in journalism and public relations, the number sign has come to have a different meaning entirely.
Three number signs/pound symbols (###), centered directly above the boilerplate or underneath the body copy in a press release, indicate to media that there is no further copy to come. The reporter or editor will know they have the full document in hand. An alternative way of formatting the end of a press release, depending on your J-school professor, is to use “-30-.“
While for PR pros using ###, -30-, or sometimes even –END-, is habit, many of us don’t know why or where it originated. There are several theories––from the Civil War era when Western Union 92 Code of telegraphic shorthand was used to signify the end of a transmission, to a time when stories were written in longhand and X marked the end of a sentence, XX the end of a paragraph, and XXX the end of a story (XXX=30 in Roman numerals). You may have missed them, but pop culture has also seen references to “-30.” The finale of the TV series The Wire, which concerned the media, was called “-30-“; an episode of Law & Order about a poisoned reporter was also titled “30”; Bugs Bunny even utters, “That’s -30- for today” in a cartoon.
Whichever symbol you decide to use, don’t forget that it comes out of tradition and respect, and simply means…
- Lara Cohn, Senior Vice President/Director of Public Relations
# # #
Check out the previous installments of our 101 Series: