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How do you pronounce and write by hand the symbol §, which is used extensively in legal writing?

And what do you call the symbol? For example, "#" is called the number symbol or hash. "&" is called "ampersand." Should I call it "the section symbol"?

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  • I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it’s a question about typefaces, not the law.
    – Dale M
    Nov 13, 2019 at 19:28
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    He's asking how to say it. That is commonly used in legal cites here in the US.
    – Putvi
    Nov 13, 2019 at 21:45
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    @Putvi - Could be he, could be she, could be they. In my case, I go by "they." Nov 14, 2019 at 4:33
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    One of the purposes of this site is for questions about "Legal terms and language, doctrines and theory" I think this is, in effect a question about a legal term, and about the process of reading adn writing legal citations, aand so is on-topic here. Dec 8, 2020 at 23:32
  • Is there a reason it would have to be written by hand? It is rarely used in non-type written documents. Indeed, even in documents that are typewritten, the section sign is often omitted, and in non-type written documents it would be more common to spell out "section" than than use the symbol.
    – ohwilleke
    Dec 9, 2020 at 4:12

5 Answers 5

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It stands for section. As in "section 8 article b" or whatever.

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  • Thank you. Can you help me with the other part, how do you write this symbol by hand? Nov 13, 2019 at 19:03
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    It is probably hard to write by hand unless you have good art skills, I guess. I would just try to write an S on top of an S. I'm sure it's not going to be as good as typing it, if you write it by hand.
    – Putvi
    Nov 13, 2019 at 19:04
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    Based on @Putvi 's comment, I tried to draw one by hand just that way- S on top of S. I have terrible handwriting, no visual art skills, and I am not a lawyer or in that field (so I have never had occasion to try to write one). It came out recognizable. Start the lower S in the middle- maybe upper third- of the first diagonal S.
    – Damila
    Nov 13, 2019 at 19:32
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    I normally write it "s." Nov 13, 2019 at 22:32
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It's pronounced "section" and usually referred to as "the section sign."

I've also seen it called a "silcrow," which is a neologism derived from its similarities to the pilcrow, and which I prefer myself.

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  • "silcrow" seems to be asking for misunderstanding by the hard of hearing (who frequently have trouble distinguishing the sound of one consonant from another, if they can hear consonants at all).
    – phoog
    Nov 14, 2019 at 18:47
  • Why do you like the pilcrow better than the section sign? the section sign looks so graceful. Nov 15, 2019 at 0:31
  • Agreed -- I just prefer calling § a "silcrow" to calling it "section sign."
    – bdb484
    Nov 15, 2019 at 1:11
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As far as the name of the symbol goes, Wikipedia uses section sign for its article on the symbol, and also notes that the terms section mark, section symbol, silcrow, double-S, and paragraph mark can be used. Note, however, that the last two could be taken to mean other symbols (ß and ¶, respectively) depending on the context; the first three are (IMHO) less ambiguous.

As far as how to handwrite it, I usually do it by handwriting two capital S's, vertically displaced from each other.

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Besides "section" in the common law, it can have different meanings in other legal systems.

For example, in Germany, § marks a "Paragraf".

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§ stands for 'section'. You can type it on your QWERTY keyboard by holding down the 'Alt' key and typing '21'.

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  • Interesting, I'd always used the alt code of Alt+0167 for that symbol. I wonder why there would be 2 codes fort hat. Sep 15, 2023 at 14:50
  • Seems like many letters/symbols have 2 or more codes. Ex. For ñ you can type ALT 164 or 241, for ¥ there is ALT 157 or 0165, so I wonder too why the redundancy.
    – BronxLens
    Sep 15, 2023 at 15:11
  • A in ASCII is 41 hex/65 decimal, as well as unicode Alt+0041, but in html &#65 as well as &#x41. Often one of the codes is the other in decimal.
    – Trish
    Sep 15, 2023 at 17:19
  • Alt 21 is a very Windows PC specific action. See these various ways of typing it.
    – Peter M
    Sep 15, 2023 at 21:57
  • @Pyrotechnical The difference between the two codes relates to what code page you are using to render the § glyph.
    – Peter M
    Sep 15, 2023 at 22:02

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