The interrobang is an interesting and underused punctuation mark that very few people know about. As you can see it is a combination of the “?” and the “!” giving typesetters the ability to excitedly ask questions, make a statement of disbelief or ask rhetorical questions without using two punctuation marks. In my typesetting experiences, I have had a few hang-ups on punctuation. I often ponder the proper use of an ellipses …, a semi colon ; (which I doubt I have ever used correctly) or multiple marks such as ?! or !!!. Below is an excerpt from Wikipedia that describes the birth of this mark.
“American Martin K. Speckter invented the interrobang in 1962. As the head of an advertising agency, Speckter believed that advertisements would look better if copywriters conveyed surprised rhetorical questions using a single mark. He proposed the concept of a single punctuation mark in an article in the magazine TYPEtalks. Speckter solicited possible names for the new character from readers. Contenders included rhet, exclarotive, and exclamaquest, but he settled on interrobang. He chose the name to reference the punctuation marks that inspired it: interrogatio is Latin for “a rhetorical question” or “cross-examination”; bang is printers’ slang for the exclamation point.”
P.S. Fuck you guys that misuse Wikipedia. It would be a credible source if you would let it.
- Readability: The counter can be lost when shrunk to body text size.
- Confusion: It is a mark that is not used in major publications and has not been properly introduced to the public.
- Availability: The majority of fonts do not offer the interrobang so customization will be necessary.
It is your mission to bring the interrobang to the general public. Make this forgotten mark prevalent in your work. We have let our letter forms get boring and standardized. Befriend the Underdogs of Typography and help them gain a place among the periodicals and text books of the future. Explore and research the interrobang and other lost glyphs. Knowledge is power‽
Original TIME article on the introduction of the interrobang June 21, 1967.
In depth and informative musing on the interrobang at Suresha.com.
The key commands shown in the image above were found on The Write Bailiwick where the author also discusses the pilcrow or “new paragraph symbol.” They are very similar looking, but I will leave the pilcrow for another day.