Often in novels (and other written works, though I'm personally most familiar with them from novels), within a chapter you'll find a little glyph that marks a transition to a different scene.

Usually it is centered, and has at least a couple of blank lines both preceding and following it, thus:




I had thought there was an official name or at least broadly-accepted term for these marks, but Wikipedia's article on Typographic Sections claims:

Space between paragraphs in a section break is sometimes accompanied by an asterism (either proper ⁂ or manual * * *), a horizontal rule, fleurons, or by other ornamental symbols.

An ornamental symbol used as section break does not have a generally accepted name. Such a typographic device can be specifically referred to as dinkus, space break symbol, paragraph separator, paragraph divider, horizontal divider, thought break, or as an instance of filigree or flourish.

Is that true?

Please note: I am asking for the name of the general typographic convention, not the specific glyphs. So the symbol names asterism (⁂), or dinkus (***) are inadequate.

  • @Mari-LouA Aww, well that's sad! No specific term beyond "section breaks". Self-closing as dupe now. Thanks for the pointer.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Oct 2, 2015 at 17:04
  • I don't know if you have seen that question, but I remember seeing it a while back. Wait a bit before self-closing. Who knows, someone might have an answer.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Oct 2, 2015 at 17:04
  • @Mari-LouA Nope, I hadn't seen it. But I don't like that there's no specific term!
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Oct 2, 2015 at 17:04
  • There's another question asking the same thing, more or less: What do you call those divisions of a book bigger than a paragraph but smaller than a chapter?, posted four months earlier.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Oct 2, 2015 at 17:10
  • 2
    It's a difficult question because the logical name—dingbats—has acquired a narrower, single-character connotation in recent times. I would be inclined to call them "printer's ornaments"—a category that would include asterisms, fleurons (aka "horticultural dingbats"), and other functional typographical decorations—but I don't have access to a typographical manual that might answer the question dispositively. I would be surprised if there weren't a fancy technical name for multipiece elements of the asterism kind.
    – Sven Yargs
    Commented Oct 2, 2015 at 17:14


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