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An interrobang in the Palatino Linotype font

Many writers, especially in informal writing, have used multiple punctuation marks to end a sentence expressing surprise and question.

What the...?! Neves, Called Dead in Fall, Denies It (headline from San Francisco Examiner, May 9, 1936)

Writers using informal language may use several alternating question marks and exclamation marks for even more emphasis:

He did what?!?!?!

Like multiple exclamation marks and multiple question marks, such strings count as poor style in formal writing.<ref>Punctuation. Chicago Style Q&A. Chicago Manual of Style Online. (15th ed.) Accessed August 28, 2007.</ref>

The combinations "!?" and "?!" are also used to express judgements of particular chess moves through their use as punctuation in chess annotation. "!?" denotes an "interesting" move, while "?!" denotes a "dubious" move.


American Martin K. Speckter conceptualized 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 exclamaquest, QuizDing,<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=book }}</ref> rhet, and exclarotive, 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";<ref>Burton, Gideon O. interrogatio. Silva Rhetoricae: The Forest of Rhetoric. Brigham Young University. Accessed August 28, 2007.</ref> bang is printers' slang for the exclamation mark. Graphic treatments for the new mark were also submitted in response to the article.<ref name=fonthaus>Haley, Allan. {{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref>

Early interest

In 1966, Richard Isbell of American Type Founders issued the Americana typeface and included the interrobang as one of the characters. In 1968, an interrobang key was available on some Remington typewriters. During the 1970s, one could buy replacement interrobang keycaps and typefaces for some Smith-Corona typewriters.<ref>Smith-Corona flyer illustrating the Changeable Type system with an exclamation mark / interrobang unit Accessed March 7, 2009.</ref> The interrobang was in vogue for much of the 1960s, with the word interrobang appearing in some dictionaries and the mark itself featuring in magazine and newspaper articles.<ref name=fonthaus />

Continued support

The interrobang failed to amount to much more than a fad. Although most fonts do not include the interrobang, it has not disappeared: Lucida Grande, the default font for many UI elements of legacy versions of Apple's OS X operating system, includes the interrobang, and Microsoft provides several versions of the interrobang character as part of the Wingdings 2 character set (on the right bracket and tilde keys on US keyboard layouts) available with Microsoft Office.<ref>The INTERROBANG: A twentieth century punctuation mark. Accessed August 28, 2007.</ref> It was accepted into Unicode<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref> and is present in several fonts, including Lucida Sans Unicode, Arial Unicode MS, and Calibri, the default font in the Office 2007, 2010 and 2013 suites.<ref>MSDN fontblog. Accessed August 28, 2007.</ref>

Interrobang sections
Intro  Application  History  Inverted interrobang  Entering and display  Prominent uses  See also  References  External links  

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