Matt Peperell's Blog

P for 'Punctuation'

Written: 18 Apr 2024 (Index by date)

Tags: a-to-z  (Index by tag)

Today’s letter is P and the theme is punctuation.

In particular I wish to talk about two punctuation marks: The Oxford Comma and the Interrobang.

The Oxford Comma is used to describe the comma which appears before the word ‘and’ in a list of items when written out in prose. Style guides between publishers vary whether it should be used or not. When I was in school I was told that the final comma should be omitted. It was only in my mid-to-late 20s when I learned it was a thing. When I first heard of it I was undecided, but I think I’m shifting to prefering to use it, rather than not.

For example: My pets comprise a cat, a dog, three fish, and an iguana. Without it, the text would be: My pets comprise a cat, a dog, three fish and an iguana. (Side note: I have only a cat.)

The other character I mentioned in the opening is the interrobang. It’s a single character which combines the function of a question mark and an exclamation mark. Why on earth would someone want that‽

Typically it’s used for rhetorical or humourous questions, such as the example above.

Typing the interrobang character in HTML is straightforward - one can use the hex code. But sometimes, for example when writing in plain text, that option is not avaiable. Typically what I do in this situation is to search “ character" (or "character code") and then copy-and-paste from one of the results. But that can be awkward, not least because search engine results typically change over time.

To close, therefore, I’m including here some of the characters (not only punctuation symbols) that I need to type in order to have them together in one place. Likely it’ll be me later referring to my own post, but feel free to bookmark such that you can come back too!

Which symbols do you type with regularity that can’t be typed with a single keystroke?

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