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Happy Punctuation Day! – September 24

Is your favorite punctuation mark the ampersand? Perhaps you heard the story in court reporting training about it being one of the first instances of shorthand — one used to represent the word and. According to Merriam-Webster and Fowler’s, the ampersand symbol is a stylized version of the Latin et and can be traced back to the 1st century B.C.E. when the two letters were written together on occasion. If you look closely, you may even still see the two letters hidden within the symbol.

But the ampersand isn’t the only little-used punctuation mark. The following may not be a part of the font set you have access to, but they might be fun to consider the next time you’re transcribing.

1. Interrobang

Have you ever wanted to note that a sentence was both a question and an exclamation? You’re not alone. In 1962 advertising executive Martin Speckter came up with the interrobang to fit the bill, although the combination sign of an exclamation point and a question mark is more generally used, if it is used at all, to show excitement or disbelief.


2. Irony Mark

Here’s one that might be useful. Too often in speech we will want to use irony (when we want to say something that is the opposite of its literal meaning), but it doesn’t always transfer when you read the written word. It’s a suggestion that has come up many times over the centuries. The latest was proposed in 1966 by Herve Bazin, who also suggested placing it at the beginning of a sentence to tell you to read it as ironic.

irony mark

3. Asterism

An asterism is a group of three asterisks in a triangular or horizontal formation. The horizontal variety can also be called a dinkus.

With the asterism, a writer can draw attention to an entire passage of text that follows the symbol or can indicate a minor break in text like a change of scene in a chapter.


4. Section Sign

We included this one because you’ve probably seen it. The section symbol is still used by many lawyers. Even if they are looking online instead of in those old leather-bound law books, this cool looking symbol still shows them how to track down the page, line, and letter of the law.  

section sign

All images courtesy of Wikimedia.

Learn more about the history of Punctuation Day.

Read more about Punctuation Day in the

Celebrating National Punctuation Day

Punctuation Pet Peeves

Celebrate National Punctuation Day