It may look like an archaic typo, as if a typewriter got bumped mid-sentence, but no, the combo exclamation-question mark is a real punctuation mark. The interrobang was invented in 1962 by Martin K. Speckter with the intention of allowing advertising copywriters to convey surprise in rhetorical questions.

I like to remember the name of this glyph in the context of an interrogation, a heated one, with questions like, "And does this mean anything to you?!" while a gristle-faced cop thrusts the damning evidence in your face.

Interrogatio is Latin for "a rhetorical question" or "cross-examination" and bang is printers' slang for the exclamation point. (Is that still true? I just learned that in my research this morning. If you're a printer and use "bang" let me know because I don't want to miss out on an opportunity to say bang!)

Not a lot of fonts have the interrobang – Helevtica does, Palatino Linotype, some Unicode fonts and I really hope there are others that I haven’t found. There's even an interrobang advocacy group on Facebook!

 

5 comments




by al

Now that’s interesting…but what’s the key combination to display such a creature in helvetica?

11.09.2010

by Eleanor

In InDesign, open Type > Glyphs > then select Punctuation > and scroll down until you find it and double click it.

In HTML, you can type & #8253 ; (without the spaces) to get the ?.

As for a keyboard shortcut…

11.09.2010

by Eleanor

I also found this info:
The Interrobang can be used in some word processors with the alt code ALT+8253 when working in a font that supports the interrobang
But haven’t been able to make it work.
Can you?

11.09.2010

by Dave Rogers

Programmers use “bang” instead of “exclamation point” all of the time. Probably because we’re lazy, and the extra four syllables could be put to better use: “more coffee now!”

11.11.2010

by Eleanor

Ha ha! Thanks Dave. I’ve been hooked on yerba maté these days…. also four syllables.

11.12.2010

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