Solidus (punctuation)

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Punctuation

The solidus ( ⁄ ) is a punctuation mark used to indicate fractions including fractional currency. It may also be called a shilling mark, an in-line fraction bar, or a fraction slash. Its Unicode encoding is U+2044.

The solidus is similar to another punctuation mark, the slash, which is found on standard keyboards; the slash is closer to being vertical than the solidus. These are two distinct symbols that traditionally have entirely different uses. However, many people no longer distinguish between them, and when there is no alternative it is acceptable to use the slash in place of the solidus.[citation needed]

Both the ISO and Unicode designate the solidus as FRACTION SLASH U+2044[1] and the slash as SOLIDUS U+002F.[2] This contradicts long-established English typesetting terminology.[3]

Contents

History

The names solidus and shilling mark have the same background. In the British Commonwealth, before decimalisation, currency sums in pounds, shillings, and pence were abbreviated using the '£' symbol, the 's.' symbol, and the 'd.' symbol (collectively £sd) referring to the libra, the solidus, and the denarius. The 's.' was at one stage written using a long s, that was further abbreviated to the symbol, and suppression of the 'd.'; thus '2 pounds, 10 shillings, and 6 pence', often written as £2 ⁄ 10 ⁄ 6 (as an alternative to '£2 10s. 6d.'), and '10 shillings' would often be written as 10 ⁄ -. This usage caused the names solidus (given the abbreviation's historical root) and shilling mark to be used as names for this character.[citation needed]

Usage

Currency

The shilling mark is used to denote shillings, see the History section above.

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