Etudes for Microsoft Word Programmers. Appendix.

Up ]

Information on this page is from "ParaType" web site

Special Symbols




‘At’ sign
Commercial ‘at’

A commercial symbol @ that means ‘at’ or ‘at the rate of’. Used mainly in electronic mail addressing and computer operations. It has various forms depending on the typeface but in general it is the italic ‘a’ with surrounding spiral line.


Symbol “&” — a scribal abbreviation for “and”. There are many forms and styles. All of them are derived from the Latin word et. The name originates from the expression “and per se and”. One of the first cases of usage was found in Roman manuscript of 75 AD.


A typographical character used with the alphabet but lacking a place in the alphabetical order. General character set includes figures, punctuation marks, fractions, monetary symbols etc. In some fonts there are analphabetics to compose mathematic formulae, diagrams, maps, ornaments, lines, borders, fleurons etc.

Angle brackets

Left angle bracket “<” and right angle bracket “>”. Angle brackets are useful for many editorial purposes and for mathematics.


Also called raised comma or single close quote. A mark of elision in many languages. It grew from that use in English to become also a sign of the possessive. [It's = it is, but John's = Johnes = John has = belonging to John.] In many Native American and Slavic languages written in Latin script, it is used with consonants — d' k' t' x' — to indicate modified pronunciation. Used alone, it serves in many languages as a sign for the glottal stop.


A superscript * used primarily as a reference mark. In philology and other sciences, it is used to mark hypothetically reconstructed or fetal forms. There are many forms of the asterisk. It appears in the earliest Sumerian pictographic writing and has been in continuous typographic use for at least 5000 years.


Exclamation mark. A punctuation mark expressing rising intonation. Usually the exclamation mark is used after the phrase, but in some languages as in Spanish the inverted exclamation mark is used also at the beginning of the phrase. In England the exclamation mark is often called a screamer.


Braces are rarely required in texts, but they can function as an extra and outer set of parenthesis: {( [-] )}. Their primary use is marking mathematical phrases and sets. They also enclose a complete function in many programming languages.


Square brackets are essentials of text typography, used for interpolations into quoted matter and as a secondary and inner set of parenthesis.


A mark used to set off items in a list, frequently a filled circle.


A grammatical marker descended from early scribal practice. It is also used in mathematics to indicate ratios and in linguistics as a mark of prolongation. The name ‘colon’ is from Greek.


A grammatical marker, descended from early scribal practice. In German, and often in East European languages, the comma is used as an open quote. Throughout Europe, it is also used as a decimal point, where most North Americans expect a period. In North American usage, the comma separates thousands, while a space is preferred in Europe. Thus 10,000,000 = 10 000 000, but a number such as 10,001 is typographically ambiguous. In Europe it means ten and one one-thousandth; in North America, ten thousand and one.

Long cross

A reference mark, used chiefly with footnotes. In European typography, it is also a sign of mortality, used to mark the year of death or the names of deceased persons, and in lexicography to mark obsolete forms. Also called obelisk or long cross.


Standard fonts include, at minimum: an em dash ( — ), an en dash (–) and hyphen (-). A figure dash and three-quarter em dash are often included as well, and a one-third em dash more rarely.

Diacritical mark

Ancillary mark added to a letter to distinguish it, stress it or change its pronunciation. Eg. ç, à, ò, é, Å.

Dot accent

One of the upper (Overdot) or lower (Underdot) diacritics. Overdot is used in Lithuanian, Maltese, Polish, Turkish and other scripts, and underdot is used in Vietnamese as one of the four tone-marks and in other alphabets.

Dot leader

A row of evenly spaced periods or midpoints, often used by typographers to link flush-left text with flush-right numerals in a table of contents or similar context.

Double Dagger

Symbol ‡. A reference mark, used with footnotes.

Double quotes

See also "Guillemets". Usually double quotes are used for quotation inside another quotation.


A punctuation mark made up of three dots in a row, indicating that a word or phrase has been omitted.

Em dash

A dash of the width of the letter "M". It's used in text to separate a parenthetical note as an alternate to parenthesis. Also it is often used to indicate a break in a sentence.

Em quad
Em space


A square the size of a capital letter M. See also Em space.

Em space
Em quad


In linear measure, a distance equal to the type size, and in square measure, the square of the type size. Thus an em is 12pt (or a 12 pt square) in 12 pt type. Also called mutton.

En dash

A dash of the length of the letter N. It is used to indicate a range of values.

En space
En quad


A space horizontally equal to the half of the type size, and vertically equal to the type size. Also called nut.


Letter ß — “double s” ligature. Used in German.

French quotes

Single and double quotes used as quotation marks with the Latin, Cyrillic and Greek alphabets in Europe, Asia and Africa. In French and Italian, the guillemets always point «out», but in German they more frequently point »in«. They are named probably after the name of the 16th century French punchcutter Guilliaume Le Be , who may have invented them.

Hard space
Unbreaking space
Nonbreaking space


Special 'space' character that behaves as a letter in justification and spacing operations. Also prevents next word from breaking to the next line. Instead both words together move to the beginning of the next line. Is used for initials and so on.


A punctuation mark used in some compound words, such as gastro-intestinal, seventy-five, and mother-in-law. A hyphen is also used to divide a word at the end of a line of type. Hyphens may appear only between syllables. Thus com-pound is properly hyphenated, but compo-und is wrong.


The interrobang was introduced in 1962 by Martin Speckter, head of a New York advertising and public relations agency and editor of a magazine called Type Talks. In a Type Talks article, Speckter declared that advertising copywriters needed a new mark to punctuate exclamatory rhetorical questions common in advertising headlines (for example: “What?! Whiter than White?!”). In this type of copy, neither an exclamation point nor a question mark (used alone) could fully convey the writer's intent. Speckter's solution was to combine the two marks into a single symbol. Speckter invited readers of Type Talks to coin a name for the new mark, with the stipulation that all proposed names derive from genuine language roots. Suggestions ranged from the simple “rhet” to the tongue-twisting “exclarotive”. Of the names submitted Speckter favored “exclamaquest” and “interrobang” and finally chose the latter. Ideas for how the new punctuation mark should look also poured in. Some designs were more imaginative than practical, but most indicated that the mark be drawn as an exclamation point centered in a question mark, both sharing a common dot.

Numero sign

The sign stands for number in Russian typography. It was borrowed from France and Germany in 19th century. It is interesting that numero sign now is not used. Now number sign usually is composed from separate letters with period: [No.]. See also Octothorp.

Number sign

The name of the number sign in England and North America. The name was borrowed from cartography, where it is a symbol for village (Octothorp means eight fields and the sign stands for eight fields and the village in the middle). See also Numero sign.

Paragraph mark

Also named pillcrow. An old scribal mark used at the beginning of a paragraph or main text section. Also used as a reference mark. The form of paragraph mark widely varies depending of the typeface letterforms.


Double emphasis signs.Used as phrase markers in grammar and in mathematics.

Full stop

The sign for the end of a sentence. Also called full stop. It was used in Roman inscriptions firstly centered as a midpoint and then in mediaeval manuscripts it was moved to the baseline.

Punctuation marks

Punctuation marks are the Analphabetic symbols that structure typographically written and printing text. They regulate the reading tempo by marking the intonations, the logical pauses, and the divisions between words and sentences. Some of them are marks of the end of a sentence (Period, Question mark, Exclamation mark, Ellipsis) and others used in the middle of a sentence (Comma, Colon, Semicolon, Dashes, ellipsis). Also there are double punctuation marks used for emphasis of words or phrases (Parantheses, Brackets, Quotes, etc.). Its usage may be different in other languages or they may have different meaning. In each language there are punctuation rules determine its usage.

Question mark

The question mark(?) (also known as an interrogation point, query,[1] or eroteme) is a punctuation mark that replaces the full stop at the end of an interrogative sentence. In some languages (for example, in Spanish) is also used in the beginning of a sentence in the inverted form.

Quotation marks

Two-sided punctuation marks used for quotation isolating. There are two classes of quotation marks (Guillemots and single or double comma) used according to the national typographic tradition. In Latin, Cyrillic and Greek, single and double guillemots used as quotation marks in Europe, Asia and Africa. In French and Italian the guillemots always point «out», but in German they more frequently point »in«. In English and Spanish, common usage of quotation marks is ‘this’ and “this”; in German, it is ‚diese‘ and „diese“. In Russian, usage of quotation marks are like in French and German: the main quotation marks are double guillemots («òàê») and the second ones are double commas („òàê“). In some other countries, for example in Finland and Sweden, three kinds of of quotation marks are used at once (”this”, »this», or ’this’), but there are no difference between the quotation mark before and after isolating word or phrase. Quotation marks should not be confused with inch sign or sign for seconds of arc (").

Section mark

A scribal form of double ‘s’, now used mainly for official documents like legal codes and statutes if the text is devided on sections.


A grammatical marker, combination of colon and comma, derived from European scribal practice. In classical Greek texts, semicolon is used as a question mark.


An oblique stroke used for separation in dictionaries and linguistics. Mediaeval scribes used it as a form of comma. Slash should not be confused with fraction bar or solidus.



Horizontal spacing, i.e., the spacing between words and between letters on a line, is most often measured in ems and ens. An em is a space equal to the current point size. An en is one-half the width of an em. So a 12-point font would have a 12 point em and a 6 point en, while an 8-point font would have an 8 point em and a 4 point en. A regular space between words is held to be one-third of an em.In justified type the inter-word spacing is necessarily going to vary. The more narrow a column-width, the more variation will occur in the spacing of justified type. This is one argument in favor of unjustified text where the line-length is very short. Ideally, words in regular text should not be spaced apart more than an en or less than a quarter em (one "thin space"). Thin spaces are often used to separate dashes from adjacent words, and single quotes from double quotes. Letter spacing is more easily and smoothly accomplished today than in the age of hot type, but it is often abused. When used for effect in headings, it is important to also space the words themselves widely enough apart to separate them clearly. Letter spacing in justified text should be used sparingly.


(1) One of the upper Accents. A wavy line used on vowels in Estonian, Greenlandic, Portuguese, and Vietnamese, and on consonants in Quechua, Spanish, Tagalog and other alphabets.
(2) (ASCII tilde, swung dash) (~) A stock keybord character, used in mathematics as the sign of similarity and in dictionaries as a sign of repetition.


Etudes for Microsoft Word Programmers. Appendix. Special Symbols.

Unless otherwise noted, all materials on this site are
© 2000-2009 Evgeny Akhundzhanov, All Rights Reserved Worldwide
Microsoft is in no way affiliated with, nor offers endorsement of, this site. | E-mail the Author