Guide Interrobang

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Producer Joe Rosenberg's Americana Monotype interrobang, image by Vivian Le . It was created by an ad man named Martin Speckter just.
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A fuller thought was called a kolon. And a complete thought — followed by the longest pause — was called a periodos. These rhetorical units eventually lent their names to the comma, colon and period we know today. Medieval scribes gave us the earliest forms of the exclamation mark.

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And in the 8th century, Alcuin of York , an English scholar in the court of Charlemagne, quietly introduced a symbol that would evolve into the modern question mark. There have, however, been attempts to expand this typographical toolkit, and include other end marks.

One such example has made it into dictionaries: Speckter was also a typography nerd, constantly reading books on punctuation and the English language. He and his wife, Penny, collected hundreds of printing presses of all kinds and sizes. In the spring of , Speckter was thinking about advertising when he realized something: Can you hear me now?!

So he asked himself: The interrobang was a new kind of end mark. It denoted a question that expressed surprise or incredulity. This also made it useful for rhetorical questions, most of which are also incredulous. Speckter laid out a few different potential ideas for what the interrobang should look like, but quickly zeroed in on a favorite. His design collapsed the question mark and the exclamation point into a single glyph. The two marks, instead of being placed back to back, were now conjoined, sharing the same dot at the bottom. There was one invented by a kind of renaissance man called John Wilkins who proposed an irony mark and it went nowhere.

For example, an article praising the interrobang appeared in the New York Herald Tribune in In the Tribune article, the writer called the interrobang true genius. Still, this punctuation mark persevered.

Banality Inaction

In , a company called the American Type Founders — a legendary design firm that created some of the most widely used typefaces of the 20th century — unveiled a new typeface called Americana that included an interrobang, but the foundry was in decline, and Americana was the last type typeface they ever cut. Then, in , the iconic typewriter company Remington announced that their latest model typewriter would feature an optional intrerrobang key. Still, it was optional — an extra — costing extra money.

It failed to catch on.

Did You Know?

Today, the interrobang is just barely hanging in there. It has its own character in Unicode, the common directory of symbols which all computer fonts must reference.

For it to truly succeed, ordinary people need to employ the interrobang for no other reason beyond the fact that the sentence at hand calls for its use. He is also a typophile, and has no patience for briefs written in Times New Roman, a newspaper typeface he wants lawyers to use book typefaces. In May of Easterbrook was writing a ruling for a case, the case of Sears vs. Then he remembered the interrobang. His clerks thought it was a typo, but he assured them it was quite intentional. When Easterbrook learned this, he laughed. He said he never intended to draw attention to the interrobang.

He just thought it was the right mark to use. And, yes, I wanted to know what font! Here is the 7th Circuit Style Guide http: When i was listening to the part about naming the hash symbol, i though I should mention that in Hebrew the hash symbole is named the ladder sign, apparently named as a visual descriptor as well as to be audibly similar to the star key in Hebrew. I loved this episode! This really was my favorite podcast episode this year.


I never heard of the interrobang until now. As a linguist and second language acquisition professional, I can say that this would be more difficult for my students. This is called a digraph. We already have digraphs in English, think of the word church or short.

Here you have two letters that are spelled to make one sound. It works with vowels too. Why have another thing I need to learn that I dont understand why?


This mystery is very counterproductive for learners. Stick with what works. There was a TV series named interbang that prominently displayed this glyph. Silly teen show, but the symbol was everywhere! Chinese Hebrew Japanese Korean. This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources.

Interrobang - 99% Invisible

Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. April Learn how and when to remove this template message. Archived from the original on November 14, Retrieved June 14, Retrieved November 22, Archived from the original on April 26, Retrieved December 7, Chicago Manual of Style Online. Accessed August 28, Speckter, 73, Creator of Interrobang". Archived from the original on March 20, A Book About Fonts. The Forest of Rhetoric. Archived from the original on May 7, Retrieved December 3, Accessed March 7, A Twentieth Century Punctuation Mark.

Archived October 13, , at the Wayback Machine. Archived PDF from the original on August 4, Retrieved March 3, Archived PDF from the original on August 12, State Library of New South Wales. Archived from the original on February 1, Retrieved July 13, Archived PDF from the original on March 12, Archived from the original on July 30, Retrieved July 29, Archived PDF from the original on July 18, Retrieved July 18, We don't get it. Archived from the original on February 11,