Interrobang: Wikis


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The interrobang, interabang[1] (pronounced /ɪnˈtɛrəbæŋ/) or quesclamation mark, , is a nonstandard English-language punctuation mark intended to combine the functions of the question mark (also called the interrogative point) and the exclamation mark or exclamation point (known in printers' jargon as the bang). The glyph is a superimposition of those two marks. It is sometimes referred to as "the spork of punctuation" due to its internal duality.[citation needed]



A sentence ending with an interrobang asks a question in an excited manner, expresses excitement or disbelief in the form of a question, or asks a rhetorical question.

For example:

  • How much did you pay for those shoes
  • You're going out with whom
  • They did what

Use of an interrobang may be considered somewhat redundant, considering the same effect is captured in standard English by ending a sentence with both an exclamation point and a question mark, the order of which is determined by whether it is more rhetorical/excited or more interrogative.[citation needed]


An interrobang in the Palatino Linotype font

Many writers, especially in informal writing, have used multiple punctuation marks to end a sentence expressing surprise and question.

What the...?! Neves, Called Dead in Fall, Denies It (headline from San Francisco Examiner, May 9, 1936)

The question mark frequently comes first (to emphasize that it is a question), although there is no universal style rule on the subject.

It is not uncommon for writers in very informal situations to use several question marks and exclamation marks for even more emphasis:

He did what?!?!?!

Like multiple exclamation marks and multiple question marks, such strings are generally considered poor style in formal writing.[2]

Writers had combined question marks and exclamation points (along with using multiple punctuation marks) for decades before the interrobang was invented. They were prevalent in informal media such as print advertisements and comic books.[citation needed] They are also currently used in algebraic chess notation with "!?" showing an interesting move that may not be the best, and "?!" showing a dubious move that may be difficult to refute.


American Martin K. Speckter invented the interrobang in 1962. As the head of an advertising agency, Speckter believed that advertisements would look better if copywriters conveyed surprised rhetorical questions using a single mark. He proposed the concept of a single punctuation mark in an article in the magazine TYPEtalks. Speckter solicited possible names for the new character from readers. Contenders included rhet, exclarotive, and exclamaquest, but he settled on interrobang. He chose the name to reference the punctuation marks that inspired it: interrogatio is Latin for "a rhetorical question" or "cross-examination";[3] bang is printers' slang for the exclamation point. Graphic treatments for the new mark were also submitted in response to the article.[4]

In 1966, Richard Isbell of American Type Founders issued the Americana typeface and included the interrobang as one of the characters. In 1968, an interrobang key was available on some Remington typewriters. During the 1970s, it was possible to buy replacement interrobang keycaps and typefaces for some Smith-Corona typewriters.[5] The interrobang was in vogue for much of the 1960s, with the word interrobang appearing in some dictionaries and the mark itself being featured in magazine and newspaper articles.[4]

The interrobang failed to amount to much more than a fad, however. It has not become a standard punctuation mark. Although most fonts do not include the interrobang, it has not disappeared: Microsoft provides several versions of the interrobang character as part of the Wingdings 2 character set (on the right bracket and tilde keys) available with Microsoft Office.[6] It was accepted into Unicode[7] and is present in several fonts, including Lucida Sans Unicode, Arial Unicode MS, and Calibri, the default font in the Office 2007 suite. [8]

The French equivalent is "point exclarrogatif", expressing a similar idea - the fusion between "point d'interrogation" (?) and "point d'exclamation" (!).

Inverted interrobang

A reverse and upside down interrobang (combining ¿ and ¡, Unicode character: ), suitable for starting phrases in Spanish, Galician and Asturian is called by some a gnaborretni (interrobang backwards).[9] Unicode encodes this character at the code point U+2E18.[10] In current practice, interrobang-like emphatic ambiguity in Hispanic languages is usually achieved by including both sets of punctuation marks one inside the other (¿¡Verdad!? or ¡¿Verdad?!)[11]. Older usage, still official but not widespread, recommended mixing the punctuation marks: ¡Verdad? or ¿Verdad!


The interrobang is not a standard punctuation mark. Few modern typefaces or fonts include a glyph for the interrobang character. It is at Unicode code point U+203D. It can be used in HTML and XML documents with ‽ or ‽. The Interrobang can be used in some word processors with the alt code ALT+8253 when working in a font that supports the interrobang, or using an operating system that performs font substitution.

On a Linux system supporting the Compose Key, an interrobang can be produced by pressing the compose key followed by the question mark and the exclamation mark in either order.

The interrobang can be displayed in LaTeX by using the package textcomp and the command \textinterrobang. The inverted interrobang is also provided for in the textcomp package through the command \textinterrobangdown.

Depending on the browser and which fonts the user has installed, some of these may or may not be displayed or may be substituted with a different font.

Image Default font Fixed Palatino Linotype Calibri Arial Unicode MS Code2000 Helvetica Unicode*
*The unicode column uses one of a selection of wide coverage unicode fonts depending on what is installed on your system

See also


  1. ^ "interabang". The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000. Retrieved March 27, 2009. 
  2. ^ Punctuation. Chicago Style Q&A. Chicago Manual of Style Online. (15th ed.) Accessed August 28, 2007.
  3. ^ Burton, Gideon O. interrogatio. Silva Rhetoricae: The Forest of Rhetoric. Brigham Young University. Accessed August 28, 2007.
  4. ^ a b Haley, Allan. The Interrobang is Back. Font Haus. Accessed August 28, 2007.
  5. ^ Smith-Corona flyer illustrating the Changeable Type system with an exclamation mark / interrobang unit Accessed March 7, 2009.
  6. ^ The INTERROBANG: A twentieth century punctuation mark. Accessed August 28, 2007.
  7. ^ Unicode Code Charts, General Punctuation, 2000–206F
  8. ^ MSDN fontblog. Accessed August 28, 2007.
  9. ^ Unicode Code Charts, Supplemental Punctuation, 2E00–2E7F
  10. ^ Everson, Michael. International Organization for Standardization
  11. ^ RAE's Diccionario Panhispánico de Dudas (Spanish)

External links

Simple English

An interrobang or interabang is a grammatical symbol which combines both the exclamation mark (!) and the question mark (?).

It is a very uncommonly used symbol as most people would simply end their exclamatory questions with both of the symbols like this: !?

On a computer an interrobang looks like this: ‽

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