The INTERROBANG: A twentieth century punctuation mark.

The INTERROBANG has been described as "an obscure punctuation mark." The purpose of this page is to move the INTERROBANG from the obscure to the ubiquitous.


As an advocate of precision in communication, the concept of the INTERROBANG was introduced by Martin K. Speckter in 1962 in an article written for TYPEtalks Magazine.*

The INTERROBANG was created to fill a gap in our punctuation system where writers often used typographically cumbersome and unattractive combinations of the question mark and exclamation mark to punctuate rhetorical statements where neither the question nor an exclamation alone exactly served the writer. (HOW ABOUT THAT?!)

Mr. Speckter called his mark INTERROBANG from the Latin for query and the proofreader's term for exclamation. Most dictionaries have spelled the word correctly, although several other spellings with no logical genesis have appeared.

At the time the INTERROBANG was introduced in 1962, a number of graphic designs were sent to the magazine from many sources. An example from this outpouring is shown above. Many newspapers and magazines and talk shows reported on the new mark. In an April, 1962 editorial, The Wall Street Journal deemed this punctuation exactly right for "'Who forgot to put gas in the car?' where the question mark alone just isn't adequate." The INTERROBANG can convey in print an attitude, curiosity, and wonder.

American Type Founders issued a metal typeface in 1966 called Americana which included the INTERROBANG. Remington Rand included the key as an option on its 1968 typewriters, commenting that the INTERROBANG "expresses Modern Life's Incredibility." In 1996, a New York art studio designed variations of the mark for each of the fonts in its computer library.

You can find an interrobang in Microsoft Word's Fonts. Go to Format, choose Fonts, then Wingdings 2. You'll find 4 different versions of the interrobang. Hit the ` ~ key, the ] } key, the 6 ^ key, or the - _ key.

You call that a hat?!

For a longer history of the INTERROBANG now in production, we would welcome receiving information about uses of the mark that you've observed.

* Published by ATA 1962