The Red Pen: Perfectly Peculiar Punctuation

The rise of texting may have brought about the downfall of punctuation…but these rarely-used marks are sure to bring a little dash of whimsy to your manuscript.

The Manicule


It’s vintage! It’s retro! It’s…the manicule! Hipster writers will party like it’s 1599 if they bring back the manicule (☞), that little index finger-pointing hand that you sometimes see on vintage signage. Think of it like the bookmark of the Renaissance, used to draw attention to a place in the text.

The Interrobang


In today’s fast-paced flash-news world, the sudden startle of the interrobang (‽) begs a big comeback. Half question mark, half exclamation point (think of all the tabloid headlines you’ve read that have warranted this mark), it takes some extreme finger calisthenics to wrangle this one from your keyboard—but for sheer effect, it’s worth it.

The Ironieteken


Past typographic attempts at showing irony came and went. The ironieteken, a lightning-shaped exclamation point of a snark (Ironieteken.svg) came into play about ten years ago when the need for formal punctuation to recognize irony again became apparent. On the other hand, doesn’t calling attention to irony just sort of suck all the enjoyment out of it?

The Hedera


In a far more graceful age, the hedera (❦) was used as a paragraph break between long stretches of text. Eventually, the ivy leaf-shaped symbol just graduated to décor status, but it deserves a rally: this most genteel of glyphs gives new meaning to the “art” of writing.



Merry Gordon is silently correcting your grammar. A freelance editor and writer, Merry also has nearly two decades of experience teaching English at the high school and junior college level.


Got a punctuation problem? Click here to learn about Pink Umbrella Editing Services, and follow our blog for writing and editing tips.

One response to “The Red Pen: Perfectly Peculiar Punctuation”

  1. My keyboard needs these. 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: