The Pilcrow

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What is a pilcrow?

A pilcrow is a punctuation mark used to denote a new paragraph. Historically they marked a new chapter.

The pilcrow may look like a backward P for paragraph, but it's actually a C with two lines through it—something like ⸿.
It shares its roots with the word chapter.

Scribes of religious manuscripts would intricately decorate this chapter-mark by hand, and it ended up looking more like a P.

        While the pilcrow fell out of fashion with the advent of the printing press, it left behind the space where it would have been. This became the indented paragraph we know and love to this day.

Arial Baskerville Courier Helvetica Palatino

When to use a pilcrow?

Using a pilcrow for its original purpose is archaic, and rarely seen outside of books on typography. But it still has a few modern uses.

referencing a paragraph

The pilcrow is still used today to cite specific paragraphs in academic writing and legal documents like this:

proofreading and copy editing

Editors use a pilcrow to show where a paragraph needs to be split. It's also used in word processors to highlight new paragraphs.

For developers:

alt-code html
8253 ‽
2E18 ⸘

Now that you know all about the pilcrow, you've probably realized you'll never need to use one.

If you'd like to read about punctuation you might actually use one day, why not read: