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Communications, Design

Interrobang – interrogative exclamation

The interrobang punctuation mark has a modern, but noble, history dating back to 1962. It is, of course, a question mark and exclamation mark combined (‘bang’ is a printer’s name for exclamation mark). Take a second to reflect on how this might be useful. How often (especially during instant messaging conversations, texts and emails) do you end a sentence with !?!?!? to show a surprised query?

Queries like ‘do you want a punch in the face!?‘ and ‘what’s the point?!‘ would benefit from the interrobang. Unfortunately, it’s not always available within the font we’re using.

Sadly, not all browsers support the character, so even if you can get it showing for yourself, it might just fail to appear (or show as a square box) in other people’s browsers. In web design, the HTML character entities you can use are ‽ or ‽ but as I say, they may not work for some people.

In word processed documents, some fonts can give you a decent interrobang (please tell me you don’t write in the default font? Don’t you think Times New Roman is tired?!) but knowing which keys on your keyboard to hit to make the interrobang appear is very hard. Arial and Palatino Linotype should have it.

It’s easier to type ] or ` or ^ and then select that character, and change the font to Wingdings 2. You can then decide which looks best. (Obviously, Wingdings 2 characters only work for people who have the Wingdings 2 font installed on their computer. PDFing documents may embed the character nicely for you.)

Online

HTML can show the interrobang, but not all web browsers support it. Firefox does better than Internet Explorer. What about Chrome, Safari, Opera, Flock and Camino?

I used an interrobang on our company intranet today, but as everyone uses IE, how do you think I got it to work? I hacked together an image, a graphic of it. It’s a cheat, but I really wanted to use it, so there you go. Don’t you think it’s a great character

So, what about OpenOffice.org documents? What about other fonts? What about on a Mac? What about in Safari? What about HTML5? Is the interrobang even useful to you?

[Wedge]

About Wedge

I’m Wedge, and this is my website! I’ve worked within internal communications since 2004, managing intranets and digital comms. Now I’m a freelance comms and intranet specialist - I help organisations plan and improve their intranets. I work with other agencies, and write a lot of blog and magazine articles. I founded the Intranet Now conference. You can catch up with me on Twitter - I’m @Wedge.

3 thoughts on “Interrobang – interrogative exclamation

  • Wedge, you were the first person I ever saw use the ‘interrobang’ and I honestly thought you invented it! :)

    I haven’t yet worked out how to create one, but I shall study your tips and have a go.

  • I’ve always been trying to find a way to use the interobang in my writing but could never get it to work, Thank yo uso much!!!

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