We all know how to use commas, periods and colons.
We may sometimes skip them when we’re just jotting down a quick message, because there’s no need to get too hung up about little things like that.
But almost everyone learns how to use these basic punctuation marks in school.
Yet did you ever learn about the interrobang?
You’d be an unusual — and lucky — person if you did.
The interrobang is a rare piece of punctuation that could really come in handy when you’re writing something that you want to pack a punch.
The name of the symbol comes from a combination of the words interrogation — which refers to a formal system of questioning — and bang — which is printer’s jargon for an exclamation mark.
It’s able to express a range of emotions that no other symbol can.
As a combination of the traditional question mark and the trusty old exclamation mark, the interrobang can be used to show that a question is being asked with great emphasis or especial energy.
Come on, surely you’re starting to see what I mean‽
The interrobang can also be used to ask rhetorical questions, which are questions that aren’t really looking for an answer — they’re used simply for stylistic effect.
Martin K. Speckter did. Because he is the person who first invented the symbol in 1962.
He was the head of a large American advertising agency and he was looking for a way to make his writing more exciting and eye-catching.
What better way than combining two powerful punctuation marks‽
You may notice that people have long done this in a more informal way. For example, have you ever seen a question asked like this?!
Using both the question mark and the exclamation mark together — one after the other — is one way to replicate the force of the interrobang.
You can do that if you don’t have access to the interrobang, which isn’t standardly available on computer keyboards.
It is formally a part of Unicode, however, which lists all the characters that a computer can represent.
If you do want to use the interrobang in your writing, you can bookmark this blog post and just copy and paste the symbol at the end of this sentence, can’t you‽
Of course, you can access this page on your smartphone, whether it’s an Android, iPhone or any other model.
There is also an interrobang emoji that can be viewed here, but it simply places the exclamation and question marks together, rather than overlaying one on top of the other as in the traditional interrobang.
However, with so many options, you have no excuse not to use this wonderful symbol whenever and wherever you can.
So surprise a friend with a bang, the next time you want to ask them a tricky question.
You could really grab their attention, because they may not have seen it used before.
Be inventive and let me know if you find some unusual or interesting uses for the interrobang, and together we can make it as popular as it deserves to be!