The pilcrow (¶; Unicode U+00B6, HTML entity ¶), also called the paragraph sign or the alinea (Latin: "a linea", "off the line"), is a typographical character commonly used to denote individual paragraphs. This non-alphabetic symbol varies between typefaces, but the form shown here is typical.

The pilcrow can be used as an indent for separate paragraphs or to designate a new paragraph in one long piece of copy, as Eric Gill did in his 1930s book, "An Essay On Typography". The pilcrow was used in the Middle Ages to mark a new train of thought, before the convention of physically discrete paragraphs was commonplace.

The pilcrow is usually drawn like a backwards letter P reaching to caps height or ascender height, but may also be drawn with the bowl stretching further downwards, resembling a backwards D.

History and etymology

"Pilcrow" might be a derivation of "paragraph" through "parcrafte"; the etymology is uncertain, yet, the "Oxford English Dictionary" says that 'apparently', "pilcrow" originated as an unattested version in English of the French "pelagraphe", a corruption of "paragraph"; the earliest reference is c.1440. Another derivation suggested is "pilcrow" originating as a letter "C", for "capitulum", "chapter" in Latin. In this account, the "pilcrow" is the "paraph" symbol that replaced the "paragraphos", which was marked with different symbols, including the section sign. Moreover, the "paraph" also could be marked with a full-height, cents-like sign or with a double slash, originally symbols indicating a note from the scribe to the rubricator. [Parkes, M.B. "Pause and Effect: An Introduction to the History of Punctuation in the West." ISBN 0-520-07941-8.]

Contemporary use

The pilcrow has been used in desktop publishing software such as word processors and page layout programs to mark the presence of a carriage return control character at the end of a paragraph. It is also used as the icon on a class of toolbar button which shows or hides the pilcrow and similar "hidden characters", including tabs, whitespace, and page breaks. In typing programs, it is used to mark a return that one needs to type.

In legal writing, it is used whenever one must reference a specific paragraph within pleadings, law review articles, statutes, or other legal documents and materials.

In proofreading, it is used to indicate that one paragraph should be split into two or more separate paragraphs; the pilcrow is inserted at the point at which a new paragraph should begin.

Online, it is used in some blogs and wikis to denote permalinks [ [http://www.tbray.org/ongoing/When/200x/2004/05/31/PurpleAgain ongoing — Purple Pilcrows] ] (cf Purple Numbers).

In Unicode, the character is called PILCROW SIGN, and has codepoint U+00B6. The HTML entity for it is ¶.

The pilcrow character can be added as a visible, printable character on the Windows operating system using the shortcut alt + 0182. Depending on the font used, this character will have varied appearance, and in some cases, may be replaced by an alternate glyph entirely.

On a Mac OS computer the pilcrow character can be generated by typing Option + 7.

Paragraph signs in non-Latin writing systems

In Chinese, the traditional paragraph sign is a thin circle about the same size as a Chinese character. This same mark also serves as a “zero” character, as a stylistic variation of the Chinese character for “zero”. As a paragraph sign, this mark only appears in older books. Its current use is generally as a “zero” character.

In Thai, the character ๛ (Unicode U+0E5B, Thai character Khomut) can be used to mark the end of a chapter or document.

ee also

* Section sign
* Paragraphos


External links

* [http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/pilcrow Pilcrow definition] at the [http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/pilcrow Dictionary.com website]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Pilcrow — Pil crow, n. [A corruption of {Paragraph}.] (Print.) a paragraph mark, [para]. [Obs.] Tusser. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Pilcrow — Satzzeichen , –, , ―  . ,  , ,  ; ,  : ,  … ,  ·  ¿, ?, !, ¡, ‽, ⸮ „…“, »…« … …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • pilcrow — Английский параграф (Paragraph mark, Pilcrow)     Знак, обозначающий при верстке возврат каретки (переход к следующему абзацу). Кроме того, в англо американской типографике применяется в качестве знака сноски. Происходит от средневекового… …   Шрифтовая терминология

  • pilcrow — /pil kroh/, n. a paragraph mark. [1400 50; appar. alter. (perh. conformed to CROW1) of late ME pylcraft(e), perh. < OF paragrafe, pelagraphe PARAGRAPH] * * * …   Universalium

  • pilcrow — noun The paragraph mark ¶ …   Wiktionary

  • pilcrow — n. paragraph mark (Archaic) …   English contemporary dictionary

  • pilcrow — pil·crow …   English syllables

  • pilcrow — The symbol used by editors to indicate a new paragraph …   Grandiloquent dictionary

  • pilcrow — /ˈpɪlkroʊ/ (say pilkroh) noun See paragraph (def. 2). {? a variant of  paragraph which appeared in Middle English as pylcraft} …   Australian English dictionary

  • pilcrow — ˈpilˌkrō noun ( s) Etymology: probably alteration of Middle English pylcrafte, modification of Late Latin paragraphus more at paragraph : a paragraph mark ¶ …   Useful english dictionary

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