Punctuation in the Know – Are you Familiar with the Interrobang?!

12 Flares 12 Flares ×

 

What?

 

Have you ever heard of a punctuation mark called an Interrobang? I know I never had until I came across it in one of the best Grammar and Punctuation books I’ve ever read, and still reading – Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing by Mignon Fogarty.

 

I’ll be doing a review on this book in the next week or two, but I wanted to share what I discovered about this punctuation mark here today.

 

As Fogarty’s book explains, it wouldn’t look proper to add both an exclamation and question mark at the end of a sentence, but some expressions warrant it. Although it’s not advised to use this mark in formal writing, it’s approved to use in informal writing and communications when we’re wanting to emphasize in exclamation and make a statement with a rhetorical question in surprise at the same time.

 

Exclamation marks

The mark is basically an exclamation mark combined with a question mark.

 

 

Let’s say someone tells us something shocking or incredulous, a natural reaction we may respond with may be:

 

What?!

 

What!?

 

You did not!?

 

Are you crazy?!

Are you crazy!?

 

You did not?!

 

 Really?

 

Those are just a few examples where you could use the interrobang, which would look much cleaner than the versions I’ve listed including unacceptable double punctuation marks. The statements are rhetorical, reacting in surprise and/or  in outburst of disbelief or shock. Have you ever written a statement informally where you wanted to express strong emphasis on a statement or reply such as:  What???????????  I know I have, especially since I’m a very expressive and animated personality.

 

A Little History on the Interrobang

 

It was invented by American, Martin K. Speckter in 1962, to make a cleaner punctuation mark. The name was inspired by the Latin – Interrogatio – meaning rhetorical question, and the “Bang” was taken from a printers’ slang for exclamation mark.

 

 

In 1968 an Interrobang key was available on some Remington typewriters, and into the 70s, some Smith-Corona typewriters incorporated it, although not a standard mark. In the 60s, it  was considered quite en vogue and consequently appeared in some dictionaries and was used in various newspaper and magazine articles.

 

 

Many fonts don’t include this mark, but you can find it in certain versions of Microsoft Word in the “Symbols” section. It’s in Wingdings 2 and Palatino font.

 

 

Ironically, I can’t demonstrate it here in a sentence because I wrote this post in my WordPress editor and the mark isn’t listed in my symbols. But when I was working on my desktop with an older version of Word I use on that computer, 2007, I did find the mark there. Alternatively, if you can’t find it in your symbols on your Word program, you only have to change to Palatino while you’re in there and you should find it.

 

 

Now, what do you think about this interesting punctuation mark? Would you consider using it? Would you like to see it become fashionable again and acceptable to use in formal writing?

 

Wouldn’t that be fun!?!?!?

 

More definitions Here

Name: D.G. Kaye job Title: Author Business: DGKayewriter.com Image: https://dgkayewriter.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/say-what.jpg Facebook Url: Facebook Twitter Url: Twitter Instagram Url: Instagram LinkedIn Url: LinkedIn Pinterest Url: Pinterest Google+ Url: Google+
D.G. Kaye

DGKayewriter.com Copyright 2017

©2017
D.G. Kaye @dgkayewriter.com

Help spread kindness and positivity!

#WATWB

Join us at #WATWB by clicking on the image.

Nominated Blog 2017

Fellow Administrators of our Authors Bloggers Rainbow Support Club #ABRSC on Facebook, myself, my good friends Colleen Chesebro and Marjorie Mallon. Come join us!

Author Blogger Rainbow Club

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1829166787333493/

90 Comments

Add a Comment
  1. Great post, Debby. I have never seen it, and, I don’t think most readers would know its meaning, however, I could be wrong.I think it is great. I am going to look for it on my computer. Don’t know if I’ll ever use it though. The book sounds interesting, I am going to take a peek at it on Amazon. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Glad I could intrigue you with this lovely punctuation find Patricia. I’ll be reviewing the book this Sunday. It’s really a helpful guide with great examples to demonstrate the lessons that help them sink in. 🙂 xx

  2. Love it Debby… Who, What and What The….. so many applications.. have put in the Blogger Daily.. ♥

    1. Isn’t it fab? How did I not know about this? Thanks once again Sal for sharing. I’ll bet many will get a kick out of this. 🙂 xo

        1. LOl, thanks again Sal. 🙂 <3

  3. Yes, I want it! 🙂

    1. Lol, me too! 🙂

      1. This would be just perfect for the semi-rhetorical SERIOUSLY

        1. I know! 🙂

  4. I use the !? or ?! occasionally on blogs and sometimes the ??? or the !!! Ha ha. I’m glad it has a name now, Debby. I think it will be a while before we see a lot of interrobangs in books since the simple ! is so frowned on. Thanks for the laughs – a funny post!!!

    1. And thanks for your entertaining comment Diana. 🙂 !!! ??

  5. OK, go to the Wikpedia link you have above, scroll down to the Entering and Display section where you will find the HTML code necessary to render an interrobang. If you want to place it in a blog post, insert the HTML in text mode. Switch back to visual and voila, you have your interrobang! I would put the code here, but it causes problems. Just go to Wikipedia to find it. LET’S ALL START USING IT AND BRINGING IT BACK. 🙂

    1. Thanks John, I tried it and it comes out tiny. But I did a full search in my Word 2016 (which is much different than 2007) and did find it in Palatino font!? Wish I could install it work on my blog just think how much more expressive I could be, lol 🙂 !!??

    1. Thank you once again for sharing my dear friend Sally! <3 <3

  6. No!?!? I am a somewhat of a punctuation curmudgeon. I loathe exclamation points and prefer tone to be expressed with the words used and the body language ascribed to the characters.

    1. Lol Jeri, I kind of figured you might feel that way as an editor. But there are some of us writers who like to bend rules and for me, this mark fits the bill. 🙂

  7. Just stick it on my keyboard and I’ll use it daily 😉

    1. Great Sue! Glad to hear another writer would like to use it. 🙂 xx

      1. It would save me a lot of keystrokes 😉

  8. The English teacher in my perked up with the post, Debby. I have never heard of the interrobang, but am waiting for this key to appear on my iMac laptop. Ha!?!

    I hope you succeeding in washing/drying your lovely locks. I found a travel-size shampoo this morning at Savon!!!

    1. Lol Marian. So this mark even surprised you!? And I thought you were on vacation??? 🙂

  9. How did I not know this? I’ve used Remingtons and Smith-Coronas, yet I don’t recall noticing it. Would I consider using it? Absolutely! Great post, Deb ♥

    1. Thanks T! Isn’t it fabulous?! 🙂 <3

      1. Fabulastic! 🙂 ♥

        1. !!!!!!?????? 🙂 🙂 <3

  10. Once you get the HTML code for making one, save it in a draft post on your blog under interrobang and just post it in via the text editor wherever you think it fits in a post. Here it is with spaces–just delete them and you’ll be able to use it. & # 8253 ;

    1. Ok, you lost me. Copy it to a new blank post to save it? Then how would I get to use it from the text editor? LOL

      1. You open the draft post you saved, copy the HTML code, reopen the NEW post you’re adding and paste it into the text editor where you want it. On the other hand, if you start using it once every week or two, you’ll probably memorize the ampersand, pound sign and the four digits along with the semicolon that follows any code entered in the text editor. Easy as pie. 🙂

        1. Lol, that’s what I thought. But it’s not so easy. To add a simple mark and switch to Text editor all this code comes up not broken up in order, it looks like a coded mess and can’t find the word I want to insert it after, so I’ll take a pass but use it in a Word doc. 🙂 Thanks.

  11. So interesting, dear Debbie… I am not sure why but we use double interogation marks in Spanish (I think it just happens in that Language! 😉 so if I used them to ask you something, I´d say: ¿How are you doing, today, DG? 😉 One at the beginning and the other of the end of the question. Great post… Sending love & best wishes! 🙂

    1. Hi Aqui! Thanks for demonstrating how the question marks work in Spanish. I saw that upside down one while looking at symbols and wondered how it was used. So basically, a question is enveloped by questions marks, just as dialogue is with quotation marks,except the beginning mark is upside down. That’s so cool. Thanks for sharing this Aq. 🙂 Big hugs to you my friend. <3

      1. Exactly!.. Glad you think it is cool 😉 Big hugs back at you, dear Debbie 😀

        1. <3 Thanks Aq. xo

  12. Oh, how wonderful that you can find an Interrobang in Wingding!!??

    1. And Palatino Judith. I love it!? LOL 🙂 <3

  13. Oh Debby, this is so ironic, I just encountered this very thing, and I did not know what it was. I was editing the editor’s copy of my book, lol. I saw the mark, and thought surely they meant to use double exclamations there (I may have originally used one or two, not sure). Of course, I pointed it out to them via email, now they are going to be all Miss Smartypants, ha ha. Well, this is definitely good to know, there really are a lot of mechanics involved in the English language. Thanks so much for posting this!

    1. Wow Lana, that was an interesting story! So your editor added the interrobang? So cool! Usually the editor will frown on most exclamation and question marks, stating the words themselves should convey the expression, but yours has gone the other way. Well what I think is old becomes new again and I too love this mark and if I find a place for it in my manuscript, I may just add one or two just to spice things ups and arouse curious minds, lol. 🙂 x

      1. I think I like it also, Debby. Now I know when it is appropriate to add it 😀

        1. Great Lana. Now there’s a few of us on board. 🙂

  14. Thanks for the info Debby. I have never heard of an interrobang, although I have often unwittingly used one!

    1. Really Stevie? You weren’t aware but used one? Do tell!? Lol 🙂

      1. I must have used an interrobang in the past, but didn’t know what it was called!

        1. Great find! 😉

  15. I am teaching English Composition 1 and I have enough with trying to teach the rules to students from all over. I don’t think I can cope with more complications! It’s an interesting idea, though. Thanks, Debby.

    1. Lol, no worries Olga.:)

  16. OK, I had to Google this to see if your tongue was in your cheek. “a non-standard punctuation mark (‽) indicating a question expressed in an exclamatory manner, as in what are you doing‽.”

    Aren’t you just amazing, Deb .

    1. Lol, did you think I was making it up? Glad you like it. 🙂 And how were you able to add the interrobang to your comment?

  17. Thank you for the great information. It will be great using in a post. I’m wondering how appropriate (would it get by my editor) using in a manuscript?

    1. Most welcome Chuck! And I have to say, I have an editor who allows me the odd exclamation mark. I’m going to try her on with a few of these marks and see what she says as I’m currently in re-writes with my newest book. I’ve always been the kind of gal who marches to her own beat of a drum, bending rules, so I’ll let you know. 🙂

  18. You’ve never heard of this?! I use the interrobang quite often on my blog. My posts are conversational. They are not formal by any stretch of the imagination, as you know. I think of the interrobang as “slang punctuation”. 🙂

    1. Actually… I just peeked and there’s one in my latest post. So, there you go. Now you’ve got me curious. I mean, seriously, how often do I use these things?!

      1. So how were you able to find and use an interrobang on WP?

        1. I just use the “express version” of the actual mark: ?! A question mark followed by an exclamation mark. You did what?! But you can cut and paste it from online. You can‽ Yes. Look at that. 😉 It might even be in the symbols but I’m not sure.

          1. Thanks! No it isn’t in my symbols. 🙁

    2. NO I haven’t and I love it. Now please let me know where you found the mark in WP? 🙂

  19. Great tip. Many of us don’t take full advantage of everything our programmes offer. Excellent find! x

    1. Thanks Christoph. I may have to use a few in my new book and see how it flies by my editor, LOL. 🙂 xx

  20. Great post, Debby! I like the interrobang and would love to use it in my writing. Thanks for the info! 💕

    1. Thanks Janice. You will find it in Word in symbols then make sure you scroll to Palatino font. 🙂 <3

  21. Fab post, Debby. I ordered Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing just last week from Amazon.

    1. Awesome Michelle. I’ll be posting my review here Sunday on that book. You won’t be disappointed! 🙂 xx

      1. I’ll be looking for it. 😊

  22. Thanks Debby. Interesting post. I’d not heard of the interrobang. There are definitely times I’d like to use it!

    1. Glad to bring it to your attention. Many of us weren’t aware of this mark,especially the name. I too would like to use it. 🙂

  23. What a terrific name for it! I write the two together now and then … how original I thought. Or not as it seems! Many thanks for mentioning the book – worth a look and a memorable title! 😀❤️

    1. Glad you like it Annika, since you’re already using a combo of both! 🙂 <3

  24. I use the interrobang in blog comments and had no idea about its name… How is that even possible?!?! 😉 I’ll boomerang love for the interrobang with you <3

    1. Wow, you have it available in your symbols in your blog editor? Or you draft in Word and copy over? 🙂 <3

      1. Haha no I just meant I would use it manually on the keyboard. I am not a magic master of symbols 😉

        1. Lol, ok, I thought I was missing something. 🙂 xx

  25. I’m sure I’ve seen it, but not sure where, Debby. It may have been many years ago when I first leant how to touch-type. Can’t do that anymore, but I’m sure it was on the typewriter I was using. I’m going back to the late ’70s, early ’80s, but I know I’ve seen it (and used it) before.
    Let’s hope it makes a comeback. I’d certainly use it.

    1. That’s interesting Hugh. You can find it in Word if you’re so inspired, like I am. 🙂 xx

  26. I’ve heard of ?! but never the two combined together. From reading your post and the earlier comments and your experience with Word, it does sound like it originated a while ago and perhaps it goes lost somewhere along the way. Maybe it has appeared in historical literature before. I remember as a kid I got to play with my uncle’s typewriter, and he showed me how to type over words that you’ve already typed. I’m sure I must have come across it at some point 🙂

    1. Thanks for sharing your take and your interesting experience with a typewriter that types over words. How Cool! Yes, I was excited to learn about this punctuation mark and do intend sliding a few through to my editor in my next book, lol. 🙂

    2. That’s what I was initially thinking as well, that with a type writer, one could “easily” move the bar back and put the question mark above the exclamation point… Mist be how it originated.

      1. Now, that’s an interesting thought? Maybe it originated that way? But by the 60s some typewriters, as I mentioned, already had that mark incorporated into the keys. To use it in word just add the symbol at the end of a sentence. 🙂

      2. Yes! I remember moving the type writer back and forth, and if I typed a wrong letter, I’d keep moving the typewriter until I typed over the letter with lots of ink 😀

  27. What a coincidence! An independent bookstore just opened in Dallas called Interrobang and it is based on the very punctuation mark you feature here. I haven’t visited the store yet but this encourages me to go this weekend. Thanks for the history on the mark. I found it interesting. I’m signing off now to see if my computer is equipped with this relevant and fun mark.

    1. Wow Ann, I love the name for the bookstore. I hope you write about it on your blog once you go. I’d look forward to reading! You will find the mark in Word, not on your blog editor. Check in symbols, if it’s not there, switch over to Palatino font. 🙂 xx

  28. I’ve never seen it, but it sure looks interesting. My worry would be 1) to find it somewhere in order to use it and, 2) that it would be too much hassle to insert it (like with other special characters with accents and such), so I’d be better and quicker off writing ‘!?”. I don’t think it will get back in style again, unless there is a dedicated key for it on our keyboards.

    1. Well it looks a lot neater than !? for sure, lol. But you can find it in Word under symbols. And if you scroll through them and don’t see it, just switch to Palatino and it’s there. It’s not difficult to insert, as I often use the same process to insert and em dash when warranted, as the hyphen shouldn’t be used as an em dash. 🙂

      1. Wow, Debby, before your post, I had never heard of an em dash (or an en dash). So I just did some research. I have been using hyphens in my manuscript, where I should be using em dashes. I seriously learned something new here. Thank you and thank you, Grammar Girl!

        1. Well I’m glad I brought up the em dash for you. You see, there are many little tricks in the grammar books we think we know but don’t. Yes, I’d highly recommend Mignon Fogarty’s book. 🙂 x

I'd love to hear your thoughts

© 2014 Frontier Theme