Special Characters

Q. Seeking your expert advice on the following problem, now that I’ve run into it for about the dozenth time: When the names of brand collaborations use an “x” between the two entities, what’s the best way to style the “x”? For example, a collaboration between Louis Vuitton and Yayoi Kusama. Should it be a capital X? Lowercase x? A multiplication sign?

A. We’d vote for the multiplication sign, ×. This character is the norm in horticultural contexts—for example, to indicate the crossing of two plant species, as in Magnolia denudata × M. liliiflora, the hybrid tree commonly known as the saucer magnolia (see CMOS 8.125).

By writing “Louis Vuitton × Yayoi Kusama,” you are suggesting something similar. And though not everyone will pick up on the metaphor (in which art imitates nature), a garden-variety X or x might strike those of us who know a thing or two about typography as a cheap imitation. (For more on ×, see this related Q&A.)