Weird, wonderful, and wacky punctuation

3rd October 2019
Author: Natasha Keary
Posted in: Content production

The devil’s in the details – and no detail is overlooked more by content creators than punctuation.

Getting up close and personal with your content helps you to iron out any unnecessary quirks and streamline your writing. What better way to do that than by getting to know your punctuation – and discovering how much more exciting it could be.

Ellipses, commas, full stops, question and exclamation marks – these are all common staples of healthy writing. But there are many more symbols which could be jazzing up your text.

Let’s take a look at some of the top underused punctuation points and marks out there.

Gif of woman talking about punctuation marks


The Interrobang

Interrobang

SteveLovelace.com

Let’s start with one of the best-named punctuation marks out there. Kudos to Martin K. Speckter for coming up with this one.

What is it?

The interrobang is a combination of the question mark (?) and the exclamation mark (!). This lovely term comes from mashing together the 8th-century word for question mark (punctus interrogativus) with the slang term for the exclamation mark (bang).

It was a close call though; the creators experimented with calling it the ‘quesclamation mark’ instead. Not nearly as catchy.

How do I use it?

You’re probably already using ‘?!’ or ‘!?’ in your writing. A question mark and exclamation mark are usually used together to express excitement, surprise or disbelief. The interrobang was invented to combine these marks together to save space and precious characters.  Why use two punctuation marks when you could use a single, super cool one?  

 

The Snark Mark  Snark mark

Say goodbye to awkward, misunderstood sarcasm.

What is it?

The snark mark, or irony mark, was created to signpost all kinds of sarcasm. The backward question mark has undergone many stylistic tweaks since it was first created in 1899. However, dig deep enough and you’ll find writers way back in 1575 complaining about not having a way of showing irony in writing. The awkwardness of misread irony has been around for a really long time.

How do I use it?

Using the snark mark is very straight forward. Choose it whenever you want to mark sarcasm in your writing or make it clear you’re not being serious. The backward question mark is particularly useful for making sure your rhetorical questions are not taken literally, or that your written sarcasm keeps its witty edge.

 

The Manicule

 Manicule

A handy way of signposting your content.

What is it?

The manicule is the ultimate blast from the past. Take a look at medieval manuscripts, and you’ll see tiny hands drawn in the margins of the page. Why? To point out the most important parts of a piece of writing. The tiny hands were so useful that they became standardized punctuation marks. They were given loads of nicknames too, including the printer’s fist, bishop’s fist, digit, and mutton-fist.

How do I use it?

Manicule-up your content to make it clearer for people to pick out the most important parts of the text. Think of it as a way of highlighting the key points for your reader when you don’t want to use a feature box.

 

The Certitude Point

Certitude point

SteveLovelace.com

An exclamation mark which is really sure of itself.

What is it?

This mark is the equivalent of saying “no further questions” at the end of a sentence. The symbol looks like an exclamation mark crossed with a hyphen and was born in the same era as its sibling punctuation point, the snark mark. Its purpose: to show absolute certainty.

How do I use it?

Use the punctuation when you’re talking about something you want to indicate needs no further explanation or discussion. The next time you’re stating something and want to add extra emphasis, choose the certitude point.

 

 

 The Acclamation Point

Acclamation point

SteveLovelace.com

 An exclamation mark that you could take home to meet your parents. 

What is it?

 One of the friendliest, most unusual punctuation marks out there. The acclamation point was invented by Hervé Bazin in 1966 to express kindness and familiarity. The shape of the mark – two exclamation marks sharing a point – is said to resemble the two flags on the front of an important figure’s car.

How do I use it?

The acclamation point is perfect for special occasions when you want to emphasize the welcoming and friendly nature of your content. Anytime you want to show your good intentions in your writing, the acclamation point is your guy.



 A final point…

Exotic punctuation might just be your ticket to better, more concise content. In fact, unusual punctuation might just help you to:

  • Give your writing an original twist
  • Bring more personality and punch to the mix
  • Set your content apart from the crowd
  • Better signpost your writing