The INTERROBANG was introduced by Martin K. Speckter in 1962 to fill a gap in our punctuation system. Writers were often using typographically cumbersome and unattractive combinations of the question mark and exclamation mark to punctuate rhetorical statements where neither the question nor an exclamation alone exactly served the writer.


You can find an interrobang in Microsoft Word’s Fonts. Choose the fonts Wingdings 2. You’ll find 4 different versions of the interrobang. Use either the ] key, the ^ key, the _ key, or the ´key (under ^the key).

Although popular for awhile, the interrobang seems to have become a passing punctuation fad (bet you didn’t even know there were such things). But I dare you to try using it sometime.


Octophorpe (#)?

This funny little symbol looks like a spider and attracts a lot of attention. On this continent we often call it the pound sign or the number sign, in the UK it is called the hash or sometimes the square (but never pound, this is their pound symbol £), in Singapore and Malaysia it is called the hex key, in China it is often called cross or jĭng as it looks like the character for water well (井), and Bell Laboratories has dubbed this the octothorpe since about 1968.  It also goes by crosshatch, crunch, grid, hak, oof, pig-pen, punch mark, scratch mark, tictactoe and more.

In programming, this symbol is used for everything from a comment to a preprocessor directive and in editing it is used for a space. It is also used in mathematics and scrabble and chess and even in medicine (as shorthand for a fracture).

Regardless of what it’s called and who is using it, everyone should be careful to distinguish it from the musical sharp symbol (♯).

What a versitile symbol.

Using the comma

The comma we have today came from the virgule (/) used in the 13th to 17th centuries to indicate a pause in our reading. Since then, we have developed roughly nine specific uses of commas, and these usages can even influence the clarity and meaning of the sentence.

Read more

Rewriting for our reader’s sake

This course focuses on some key aspects of the third stage of writing; rewriting. The goal of this course is to help your writing become clearer, more concise, and more readable by polishing up your rewriting and editing skills. During this course we will examine spelling, grammar and punctuation challenges frequently encountered in technical and business writing; we will consider word choices and phrasing that reduce ambiguity and bloated writing; and we will work with sentence structure and organization to improve readability and support the points we are making.

Rewriting for our user’s sake micro-site

If you ever struggle with when to use a comma or a semicolon, are vague about using which or that, or find you use too many words to make your point; this course is for you.

We recommend that you take the Effective Writing for Business and Technology course before taking this course. This rewriting course focuses on one aspect of writing and builds on the concepts discussed in the effective writing course.

The semicolon, more that just a wink

Use of the semicolon has increased recently by combining it with a hyphen followed by a closing parenthesis to indicate a wink 😉 (tip your head to the left), but otherwise it is often avoided because writers aren’t confident how to use it.

The semicolon (;) is a delightful looking punctuation mark that provides a grammatical break that is greater than a comma, and less than a period (or full stop). So let’s look at some ways of using the semicolon.

Read more