Pilcrow

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Punctuation

The pilcrow (¶; Unicode U+00B6, HTML entity ¶), also called the paragraph mark, paragraph sign, paraph, alinea (Latin: a linea, "off the line"), or blind P,[1] is a typographical character commonly used to denote individual paragraphs. With Num Lock on in Microsoft Windows, holding down the Alt key and then typing (the Alt code) 0182 will result in the pilcrow symbol.[2]

The pilcrow can be used as an indent for separate paragraphs or to designate a new paragraph in one long piece of copy, as Eric Gill did in his 1930s book, An Essay on Typography. The pilcrow was used in the Middle Ages to mark a new train of thought, before the convention of physically discrete paragraphs was commonplace.

The pilcrow is usually drawn similar to a lowercase q reaching from descender to ascender height; the loop can be filled or unfilled. It may also be drawn with the bowl stretching further downwards, resembling a backwards D; this is more often seen in older printing.

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History and etymology

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word pilcrow "apparently" originated in English as an unattested version of the French pelagraphe, a corruption of paragraph; the earliest reference is c.1440.

Another derivation suggested is pilcrow originating as a letter C, for capitulum, "chapter" in Latin. In this account, the pilcrow is the paraph symbol that replaced the paragraphos, which was marked with different symbols, including the section sign. Moreover, the paraph also could be marked with a full-height sign similar to ¢ (cents) or with a double slash, originally symbols indicating a note from the scribe to the rubricator.[3]

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