What do you mean, you're not using these weird and wonderful punctuation marks‽
This might be an unpopular opinion, but I have said that I stand by the Oxford Comma. When the great debates about the Oxford Comma rage, I rush to its defense. I very much believe the Oxford Comma is important, but it is not, however, my favorite punctuation mark. My favorite punctuation mark would be the ever-popular interrobang. If you don’t know what an interrobang is, this is what it looks like and an example of how to use it: Wait, you don’t know what an interrobang is‽
An interrobang is a combination of an exclamation point and a question mark. It is not a very well known punctuation mark, and I believe it should have more recognition. But the interrobang is not alone in the world of under-appreciated punctuation. Consider this a PSA about little-known punctuation, starting with the interrobang and going all the way through irony punctuation (yes, it has its own punctuation).
Dagger(†)and Double Dagger(‡): A dagger is used like an asterisk. For example: Asterisks are cool.†
To type a dagger on Windows, you need to hold down the ALT key and type 0134. On a Mac, press Option and T.
Pilcrow(¶): A pilcrow is used to signify the start of a paragraph. It is also called a paragraph mark, paragraph sign, paraph, alinea, or blind P. You might see this used in magazines where they have to format an article so it doesn’t have different paragraphs.
For example: Science is a very interesting subject that many young girls have not thought to pursue. One way to change that is to offer more inclusive science classes at an elementary school level. ¶These science classes should cover a wide range of subjects, so boys and girls alike can see what they’re missing by not looking into a career as a scientist.
To type a pilcrow on Windows, you need to press the ALT key and type 0182. On a Mac, just type Option and 7.
Section sign(§): A section sign is used like an asterisk or to label sections, like you label pages with “pp.”. The section sign can also be called a double S, a sectional symbol, or a hurricane. For example: Turn to page 44 and read §1-5.
To type a section symbol on Windows, you need to press the ALT key and 0167. On a Mac, press Option and 6.
Asterism(⁂): An asterism is used to show a break in the text.
For example: The last thing Jamie saw was Lisa’s face hovering over his. Then the world went dark.
When Jamie woke up, Lisa was about to hit him with a chicken. Again.
To type an asterism symbol on Windows, you need to type the ALT key and 8258, but only on certain fonts like Arial Unicode and Lucida Sans Unicode.
Fleuron(❧): The fleuron is used like an asterism, or just for decoration. Several fleurons together can make a border around a page. Fleurons are also called printers’ flowers, aldus leaves, hedera leaves, or just hederas.
For example: I decided to leave California once and for all.
I moved away from California two years ago. I miss it now.
Fleurons are available in several fonts, but can be copied and then pasted as a symbol.
Index(☞): An index is used to draw attention to something. It is also called a fist, manicule, printer’s fist, bishop’s fist, digit, mutton-fist, hand, hand director, pointer, and pointing hand. Historically, indexes could be artful and shaded, or even full drawings of a person. For example:
Black lab named Lucy. Last seen near the town green.
Variations of the index are available in the Wingdings fonts.
Irony Punctuation(⸮): An irony punctuation is used to show sarcasm or irony. It is also called a percontation point. Other proposed sarcastic punctuation include the temherte slaqî (¡), the Sarcmark (which you have to pay to get), a snark mark (.~), and putting exclamation points/question marks in brackets ([!],[?]). For example:
Kailey: Did you know that the Earth goes around the sun?
Peter: No, really⸮
To type an irony mark on Windows, type the ALT key + 2E2E. There is no clear way to type an irony mark on a Mac. On a related note, did you know that when you use air quotes they’re actually called scare quotes or shudder quotes?
†Daggers, however, are scientifically proven to be cooler.
To conclude, we should see our punctuation as we see our vocabulary: something to expand and improve on constantly. I hope you can use these more often in your daily life to show how you really feel. Have a nice day¡ (Just kidding. I really hope you have a nice day!)
BONUS: The gender symbols (♂ and ♀) are derived from the symbols for the Roman god and goddess Mars and Venus, respectively.
Grace McFadden likes soccer, paper, and thinking she knows a little bit about everything. You can find her blog here.