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"?

  • I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it’s a question about typefaces, not the law.
    – Dale M
    Nov 13 '19 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 '19 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 '19 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 '20 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 '20 at 4:12

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

  • Thank you. Can you help me with the other part, how do you write this symbol by hand? Nov 13 '19 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 '19 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 '19 at 19:32
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    I normally write it "s." Nov 13 '19 at 22:32

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.

  • "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 '19 at 18:47
  • Why do you like the pilcrow better than the section sign? the section sign looks so graceful. Nov 15 '19 at 0:31
  • Agreed -- I just prefer calling § a "silcrow" to calling it "section sign."
    – bdb484
    Nov 15 '19 at 1:11

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.


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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