This article is about the typographical mark. For the novel, see Pilcrow (novel)
"Paragraph mark" redirects here. For the symbol §, sometimes used as a paragraph mark, see Section sign
Three short paragraphs on making gunpowder
in the manuscript GNM 3227a
(Germany, c. 1400); the first paragraph is marked with an early form of the pilcrow sign, the two following paragraphs are introduced with litterae notabiliores
(literally: enlarged letters).
Pilcrow signs in an excerpt from a page of Villanova, Rudimenta Grammaticæ
, printed by Spindeler in 1500 in Valencia.
Possible development from capitulum
to modern paragraph symbol.
The pilcrow may be used at the start of separate paragraphs
or to designate a new paragraph in one long piece of copy, as Eric Gill
did in his 1931 book An Essay on Typography
The pilcrow was a type of rubrication
used in the Middle Ages
to mark a new train of thought
, before the convention of visually discrete paragraphs was commonplace.
The pilcrow is usually drawn similar to a lowercase q
reaching from descender
height; the loop can be filled or unfilled. It may also be drawn with the bowl stretching further downwards, resembling a backwards D
; this is more often seen in older printing.
Origin and name
The word pilcrow
originates from the Greek word paragraphos
. This was rendered in Old French as paragraphe
and later changed to pelagraphe
. The earliest reference of the modern pilcrow
is in 1440 with the Middle English word pylcrafte
The first way to divide sentences into groups in Ancient Greek was the original paragraphos
, which was a horizontal line in the margin to the left of the main text.
As the paragraphos
became more popular, the horizontal line eventually changed into the Greek letter Gamma
(Γ / γ) and later into litterae notabiliores
, which were enlarged letters at the beginning of a paragraph.
This notation soon changed to the letter ⟨K⟩, an abbreviation for the Latin word kaput
, which translates as "head", i.e. it marks the head of a new thesis.
Eventually, to mark a new section, the Latin word capitulum
, which translates as "little head", was used, and the letter ⟨C⟩ came to mark a new section in 300 BC.
In the 1100s, ⟨C⟩ had completely replaced ⟨K⟩ as the symbol for a new chapter. Rubricators
eventually added one or two vertical bars
to the C
to stylize it (as ⸿); the symbol was filled in with dark ink and eventually looked like the modern pilcrow, ¶.
Scribes would often leave space before paragraphs to allow rubricators
to draw the pilcrow. With the introduction of the printing press, space before paragraphs was still left for rubricators to draw by hand; however, rubricators could not draw fast enough for printers and often would leave the beginnings of the paragraphs as blank. This is how the indent before paragraphs was created.
Nevertheless, the pilcrow remains in use in modern time in the following ways:
- in legal writing, it is often used whenever one cites a specific paragraph within pleadings, law review articles, statutes, or other legal documents and materials;
- in academic writing, it is sometimes used as an in-text referencing tool to make reference to a specific paragraph from a document that does not contain page numbers, allowing the reader to find where that particular idea or statistic was sourced. The pilcrow sign followed by a number indicates the paragraph number from the top of the page. It is rarely used when citing books or journal articles;
- in web publishing style guides, a pilcrow may be used indicate an anchor link;
- in proofreading, it indicates an instruction that one paragraph should be split into two or more separate paragraphs. The proofreader inserts the pilcrow at the point where a new paragraph should begin;
- in some high-church Anglican and Episcopal churches, it is used in the printed order of service to indicate that instructions follow; these indicate when the congregation should stand, sit, and kneel, who participates in various portions of the service, and similar information. King's College, Cambridge uses this convention in the service booklet for the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols. This is analogous to the writing of these instructions in red in some rubrication conventions.
The pilcrow may indicate a footnote
in a convention using a sequence of distinct typographic symbols in sequence to distinguish the footnotes on a given page; it is the sixth in a series of footnote symbols beginning with the asterisk
The pilcrow character
was in the 1984 Multinational Character Set
extension of ASCII
at 0xB6 (decimal 182), from where it was inherited by ISO/IEC 8859-1
(1987) and thence by Unicode
as U+00B6 ¶ PILCROW SIGN
. In addition, Unicode also defines U+204B ⁋ REVERSED PILCROW SIGN
, U+2761 ❡ CURVED STEM PARAGRAPH SIGN ORNAMENT
, and U+2E3F ⸿CAPITULUM
. The capitulum character is obsolete, being replaced by pilcrow, but is included in Unicode for backward compatibility and historic studies.
Depending on the font used, this character varies in appearance and, exceptionally, may be replaced by an alternate glyph
Paragraph signs in non-Latin writing systems
, the characters ፠
can mark a section/paragraph.
- ^ Updike, Daniel Berkeley, Printing Type – their History, Forms, and Use, 1922. Vol. I, p. 107.
- ^ a b c M. B. Parkes (1993). "The Development of the General Repertory of Punctuation". Pause and Effect: Punctuation in the West. Berkeley: University of California Press. p. 43. ISBN 9780520079410.
- ^ a b "Notes, references and bibliographies: Notes". Style manual (3 ed.). Canberra: Australian government publishing service. 1978.
- ^ Eric Gill (2013) . An Essay on Typography. London: Penguin. ISBN 9780141393568.
- ^ Stamp, Jimmy (10 July 2013). "The Origin of the Pilcrow, aka the Strange Paragraph Symbol". Design Decoded (a Smithsonian blog).
- ^ Keith Houston. "The Pilcrow". Shady characters : ampersands, interrobangs and other typographical curiosities. London: Penguin. p. 16. ISBN 9780718193881.
- ^ Edwin Herbert Lewis (1894). The History of the English Paragraph. University of Chicago Press. p. 9.
- ^ M. B. Parkes (1993). "Introduction: Glossary of Technical Terms". Pause and Effect: Punctuation in the West. Berkeley: University of California Press. p. 10. ISBN 9780520079410.
- ^ M. B. Parkes (1993). "1. Antiquity: Aids for Inexperienced Readers and the Prehistory of Punctuation". Pause and Effect: Punctuation in the West. Berkeley: University of California Press. p. 12. ISBN 9780520079410.
- ^ David Sacks (2003). "K and its Kompetitors". The Alphabet: Unravelling the Mystery of the Alphabet from A to Z. London: Hutchinson. p. 206. ISBN 9780091795061.
- ^ Jan Tschichold; Robert Bringhurst (1991). "Why the Beginnings of Paragraphs Must Be Indented". The form of the book : essays on the morality of good design. Translated by Hajo Hadeler. London: Lund Humphries. pp. 105–109.
- ^ https://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc7992#section-5.2
- ^ "Windows Alt Key Codes". Penn State University. 2010. Archived from the original on 14 June 2010.
- ^ "iPad Writing Tool". iDevices World – Australia. 2011. Archived from the original on 20 June 2011.
Look up Pilcrow
in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
Last edited on 28 June 2021, at 11:19
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