Section sign

The section sign (§) is a typographical glyph for referencing individually numbered sections of a document; it is frequently used when citing sections of a legal code.[1] It is also commonly called section symbol, section mark, double-s, silcrow,[2] or alternatively paragraph mark in parts of Europe.[3][4]

Section sign
In UnicodeU+00A7 § SECTION SIGN
See alsoU+00B6 PILCROW SIGN (HTML ¶ · ¶)


§ is often used when referring to a specific section of a legal code. For example, in Bluebook style, "Title 16 of the United States Code Section 580p" becomes "16 U.S.C. § 580p".[5] The section sign (§) is frequently used along with the pilcrow (¶) or paragraph sign to reference a specific paragraph within a section of a document. While § is usually read in spoken English as the word section, some European countries may read it as paragraph.[6] When duplicated, as §§, it is read as the plural "sections" (e.g. "§§ 13–21"), much as "pp." (pages) is the plural of "p."

It may also be used with footnotes when asterisk (*), dagger (†) and double dagger (‡) have already been used on a given page. It is common practice to follow the section sign with a non-breaking space so that the symbol is kept with the section number being cited.[1][7](p212,233)

The section sign is itself sometimes a symbol of the justice system, in much the same way as the Rod of Asclepius is used to represent medicine. The Austrian Ministry of Justice used the symbol in its logo for a time.

In Brazil, the sign may be used to represent numbered article paragraphs following the initial paragraph (Latin: caput).[8]

Keyboard entry

Many platforms and languages have support for the section sign:

  • MacOS: ⌥ Option+6
  • Windows: Alt+0167 or Alt+21
  • iOS: & (long press)
  • Android: (long press)
  • Linux: Composes! or Composeso
  • Unicode: U+00A7 § SECTION SIGN
  • TeX: \S
  • HTML: §, §
  • URL Encoding: %A7 (Latin1) or %C2%A7 (UTF8)

Some keyboards include dedicated ways to access §:

  • United Kingdom (Mac): § (key left of 1)
  • Germany: ⇧ Shift+3
  • Italy: ⇧ Shift+ù
  • Denmark: ⇧ Shift+½
  • Colemak: AltGr+ \+s
  • Portugal: AltGr+4
  • LegalBoard (dedicated key).[9]
  • Switzerland: § (key left of 1)
  • France: ⇧ Shift+!

Font rendering

Default font Arial Calibri Code2000 Courier Fixed Helvetica Palatino
§ § § § § § § §


The glyph is encoded in Unicode as U+00A7 § SECTION SIGN and HTML §


The likely origin of the section sign is the digraph formed by the combination of two S glyphs (from the Latin signum sectiōnis).

See also


  1. Standler, Ronald M. (2004). "Legal Research and Citation Style in USA". Retrieved 2009-12-15.
  2. Krista Radoeva Knowledge share (12 January 2017). "Punctuation series: The section sign". Fontsmith. Retrieved 2018-10-27.
  3. "The Unicode Standard, Version 10.0 – C1 Controls and Latin-1 Supplement" (PDF). Retrieved 2017-10-07.
  4. Butterick, Matthew. "Butterick's Practical Typography: Paragraphs and Section Marks". Retrieved 2017-10-07.
  5. Reference, Law Library (August 9, 2018). "Guides: Bluebook Guide: Federal Statutes". Georgetown University Law Library. Retrieved December 6, 2018.
  6. "Some text-to-speech voices read the section symbol as paragraph instead of section". Retrieved 2017-10-07.
  7. Felici, James (2012). The Complete Manual of Typography (Second Edition). ISBN 978-0-321-77326-5.
  8. "The Law of Business Organizations under the New Brazilian Civil Code". Retrieved 2017-10-07.
  9. "Legalboard – A keyboard for lawyers made by lawyers". Retrieved 2017-12-18.
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