July 7th, 2014

Daniel's cell

ANSWER: What is a pilcrow and how is it used?

Today's fannish example is from Stargate SG_1.

A pilcrow (¶) is a symbol that is used to indicate the end of a paragraph. When the symbol was first used circa 1440, it was designed as the letter C to indicate a capitulum, or "chapter," in Latin, but was modified over the years to eventually include double lines and an inked in circle. You can find examples of the various stages of the symbol's design throughout the ages here.

Nowadays, the symbol is mostly used by editors and their red pens, but it can also be found in desktop publishing software and in word processors by either the Insert/Symbol menu or by typing Alt+0182 (Alt+20 on numeric keypad) in the Windows operating system and Opt+7 in the Mac environment. (For more information on producing a pilcrow in other operating systems, see Wikipedia.

Microsoft Word also provides a pilcrow icon which shows the hidden formatting marks within a text. This option gives the author an opportunity to make an essay or article look better by checking the manuscript to determine whether something might have gone wrong with the formatting, such as double spacing and page breaks.

The translation wasn't going well until Daniel realized that placing a pilcrow after a particular phrase completely changed the meaning of the text.

Whether the pilcrow is used by an editor to indicate where a new paragraph should begin, or as an option in Word to check for formatting issues, the pilcrow is a very useful tool to have as you work on your projects.


Smithsonian.com - discusses the origin of the pilcrow as well as an example of how it was used circa 1500