The Most Bangin’ Piece of Punctuation


The interrobang is unquestionably the most bad ass, yet delightfully practical, piece of punctuation man has conceived.  In fact, I am shocked to discover that WordPress does not recognize “interrobang” as a word, seeing as it has been underlined with red, yet to my further disbelief “WordPress” has been recognized as perfectly valid.  According to an online article, American Martin Speckter, the head of an advertising agency, first founded the interrobang in 1962.  He believed that advertisements would look more presentable if rhetorical questions were expressed with a single mark.  By 1968, an interrobang key was available on some Remington typewriters, and by 1970 one could buy replacement interrobang key caps for some Smith-Corona typewriters.  Literally comprised of “interro” as short for interrogative question, and “bang” for an exclamation mark, the interrobang was featured in several news and magazine articles during its peak in the 1960s and 70s.   Although today seen by the general public as little more than than a fad, many fonts on Microsoft word do include  an interrobang.  While most casual writers seem perfectly content using the two separate marks, “?!”, to express an excited question, I urge you to reconsider the ease of use in communicating  such a frequent emotion with one fluid stroke and a dot.  Not to mention how much more fun it is to draw.  Trust me.

As for a piece of punctuation that I despise, this was tougher to select because there are many that slow down the creative process of writing, but I’m going to have to go with the reference mark.  There is nothing wrong with the reference mark itself, but rather what it signifies.  It signifies, a reference to a citation.  My least favorite part of academic writing is the technicalities involved with citing sources.  I understand this may sound childish, but it surely isn’t that I don’t respect and understand the importance of attributing the people who gave me the ideas for what I wrote.  Moreover, it’s the notion that the proper formatting and inclusion of referencing every idea you pulled from someone else (let’s face it, by 2014 almost every “novel” idea comes from another idea) is precedent to the actual writing itself.  As someone who doesn’t pay close attention to details, I’ve found it incredibly frustrating in my coursework that if I spend a lot of time creating a particular argument or claim, yet I do not have the proper citation, the entire idea is thrown out the window as rubbish.  Again, it might be naive of me, but I believe at the university level a majority of “plagiarism” is unintentional, and more carelessness and lack of attention to detail than true intent of deceit.  Because of the anguish bibliographies and sourcing has caused me, the reference mark, symbolically, is a piece of punctuation that far from excites me.




3 thoughts to “The Most Bangin’ Piece of Punctuation”

  1. Conrad – I have never heard of the interrobang before and am very intrigued by it. I can’t see myself using it in an academic context very often because I am a strong believer that exclamation points should never appear in writing outside of text messages and emails, but I could certainly take advantage of the interrobang in texts and facebook comments.

    I also really liked your take on citations, especially your point about the citation preceding the actual writing. I’ve never thought about that before but you make a very good point. Nice work!

  2. Full disclosure, never heard of the interrobang before. However, I do think that it would make texting much easier because the usual ‘?!’ takes far too long for me to type correctly. I appreciate that you chose a slightly unconventional piece of punctuation, one that is meant to show more emotion than most of the traditional glyphs.

    Your disdain for the reference mark is one that I believe many students share. I’m going to assume that you are not referencing footnotes as a whole, because personally I believe that footnotes can be great for things outside of the traditional usage of housing a citation. I tend to use them for asides that I would not have been able to fit into the text otherwise.

    Overall, the interrobang is the star of this post. And I feel slightly indebted to you for introducing me to it and all of its glory.

  3. Con,

    I gotta tell you, his post really got my day kickstarted right. I honestly had never even heard of the interrobang before reading this. I love all of the background history you included about the mark. It sounds so awesome and I have no clue why my Mac keyboard doesn’t have it yet. Plus, the name, am I right? Anyway Conrad, great job here. I’m looking forward to reading more of your posts, bud.

    Keep it up,


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