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12 Little-Known Punctuation Marks More People Should Be Using

Why risk boring your friends and followers with a mere period at the end of your texts, posts, and emails? Clarify your message with these handy inventions, used or advocated by punctuation mavericks around the world.

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Interrobang

While the combination of a question mark and exclamation point can be effectively replaced by using one of each (“She did what?!”), that somehow lacks the punch of throwing these punctuation marks on top of each other to finish your thought. Besides, who among us doesn’t want to say “interrobang” more often?! As far as what not to say, it might be time to give these 16 overused words (and phrases) a rest.

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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 marks). 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. These punctuation marks would’ve come in handy in these funny examples of irony in real life.

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Snark mark

Need to indicate 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 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? Now if only people could agree these grammar debates.

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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 anniversary” and “I love my cat.” (Only a cynic would note the subtext of using question marks to express ardor.)

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Certitude point

A mom favorite, the certitude point conveys total conviction, as in, “We are not going to the zoo and that’s FINAL!” Think you’re a grammar expert? See if you can ace this high school English quiz.

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Doubt point

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

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Acclamation point

The French author who proposed this mark in 1966 described it as “the stylized representation of the two small flags that float 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 “God bless America.”

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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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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 these days just use three stars in a row for breaks within chapters (***) or simply skip an extra line.

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Exclamation comma & Question comma

Want to show delight or confusion without ending your sentence? Slip in one of these bad boys! Once patented like the SarcMark, these comma cousins have been free since 1995. Next, find out the 13 comma rules everyone should know.

Originally Published in Reader's Digest