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11 Little-Known Punctuation Marks We Should Be Using

Why risk boring your friends and social-media followers with a mere period at the end of your texts, posts and emails? Clarify your message with these handy inventions.

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InterrobangPhoto: Tatiana Ayazo

Punctuation Marks: Interrobang

While this combination question mark and exclamation point can be effectively replaced by using one of each (“She did what?!”), that somehow lacks the punch of throwing them on top of each other to finish your thought. Besides, who among us doesn’t want to say “interrobang” more often‽

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Irony markPhoto: Tatiana Ayazo

Punctuation Marks: Irony Mark

The irony mark, first printed in the mid-1800s, precedes a sentence to indicate its tone before it is read (much like some Spanish punctuation). The intent: beware of crafty double meanings and arched eyebrows to follow. While this backward question mark is relatively young, writers have been proposing irony symbols since the 1600s.

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Photo: Tatiana Ayazo

Punctuation Marks: Acclamation Point

The French author who proposed this punctuation mark in 1966 described it as “the stylized representation of the two small flags that fly at the top of the bus when a head of state visits.” Acclamation is “a demonstration of goodwill or welcome,” so you could use it to say “I’m glad you could make it” or “We stand on guard for thee”

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Snark markPhoto: Tatiana Ayazo

Punctuation Marks: Snark Mark

Need to indicate that you’re being a petty jerk? Add a snark mark to your correspondence by typing a period followed by a tilde. Example: “Nice shoes. I bet you got a deal on them.~”

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Percontation pointPhoto: Tatiana Ayazo

Punctuation Marks: Percontation Point or Rhetorical Question Mark

The backward question mark was proposed in the late 1500s as the ending to a rhetorical question. So clever! Who knew⸮

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Photo: Tatiana Ayazo

Punctuation Marks: Certitude Point

A favourite of parents, the certitude point conveys total conviction, as in, “We are not going to the zoo and that’s final”

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Photo: Tatiana Ayazo

Punctuation Marks: Doubt Point

The opposite of the certitude point, this zigzag adds skepticism: “You think you’re going to the zoo”

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Photo: Tatiana Ayazo

Punctuation Marks: Love Point

The equivalent of punctuating your prose with an emoji heart, the love point is two canoodling question marks sharing a period. Try it after sentences such as “Happy anniversaryPhoto: Tatiana Ayazo” and “I love my catPhoto: Tatiana Ayazo” (Only a cynic would note the subtext of using question marks to express ardour.)

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AsterismPhoto: Tatiana Ayazo

Punctuation Marks: Asterism

This triangular pile of asterisks has been used to divide subchapters in books and to indicate minor breaks in long text. Sadly, most books just use three stars in a row for breaks within chapters (***), or simply skip an extra line.

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Sarc markPhoto: Tatiana Ayazo

Punctuation Marks: SarcMark

The SarcMark (short for “sarcasm mark”) is actually the trademarked creation of a man named Douglas Sak, who markets it as “the official, easy-to-use punctuation mark to emphasize a sarcastic phrase, sentence or message.” Yeah, the world needs more ways to be sarcastic.

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Exclamation and question commaPhoto: Tatiana Ayazo

Punctuation Marks: Exclamation Comma & Question Comma

Want to show delight or confusion without ending your sentence? Slip in one of these! Once patented, like the Sarc-Mark, these comma cousins have been free for everyone to use since 1995.

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest Canada