The pilcrow’s partner in crime: §

Keith Houston, of the Shady Characters book, turns his attention to the section symbol.

I’ve always known it as the section sign, or section symbol; Robert Bringhurst (The Elements of Typographic Style)[1] and Theodore Rosendorf (The Typographic Desk Reference),[2] my go-to typographic references, agree. It seems odd, though, that this eminently shady character has no other name. Have you come across any other names for the pilcrow’s partner in crime?

It’s called the paragraph sign in German, and it symbolizes law. It’s used in US statutes too, but there called the section symbol.

The commenter Erik writes:

It’s a symbol I used heavily (as a mathematical symbol) in my PhD thesis, and many other people who use it in the same way I did referred to it as “paragraph” which always drove me nuts because to me, the “paragraph symbol” is the pilcrow. But sadly that name is out there. I always called it the “section symbol”.

Typography for Lawyers reminds us to use a non-breaking space after these symbols.

On the book:

If Eats, Shoots & Leaves whetted your appetite on the subject of punctuation, then you have a treat in store. Shady Characters is an authoritative, witty, and fascinating tour of the history and rationale behind such lesser known marks as the ampersand, manicule, the pilcrow, and the interrobang. Keith Houston also explains the octothorpe — otherwise known as the hashtag — and my final comment on his book is #awesome.
Ben Yagoda, author of How to Not Write Bad

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