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Many of us are familiar with the section sign (§) and the paragraph sign or pilcrow (¶), but is there a sign, symbol, or mark meant to denote a sentence?

Potentially, such a mark could be used for precise citations, but I'm not really asking with any use-case in mind. I'm just itching to know if there is such a symbol, no matter how obscure!

I bring up the subject of citation because it is concise and referential. For instance, how can we refer to [sentence]5within ¶2 of §4.3?

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    Do the period (.) question mark (?) and exclamation point (!) not count? There's also some more obscure ones like the interrobang (‽) and irony mark (⸮). Commented Nov 5, 2015 at 6:35
  • This Retinart article might suggest not. Commented Nov 5, 2015 at 6:36
  • @PeterOlson: That crossed my mind, but you cannot use these symbols to cite sentences (e.g. §5, or more unconventionally, ¶3-4). Furthermore, they are not interchangeable. If you were to cite (.5), would you be referring to the fifth sentence ending in a period, counting only those sentences that end in periods, or the fifth sentence overall, counting all sentences regardless of their ending punctuation? Lastly, if we are proposing symbols fit for citation, these would be poor candidates, since they are in common use as-is (.5 is likely to be seen as citing a sub-section, not a sentence). Commented Nov 5, 2015 at 6:51
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    As a practical matter, either line numbers or sentence numbers (every sentence is counted) are used for citation. If the material is in a fixed form, line numbers are used, so "sect. 4.3, para. 2, ll. 3-5". This convention has, obviously, been undermined by the profusion of material not in fixed form (that is, web material). There, sentences are (laboriously) counted, and so "sect. 4.3, para. 2, sent. 3-5". Not the best solution, but the only one I know.
    – JEL
    Commented Nov 5, 2015 at 7:01
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    @JEL: That's exactly the kind of thing I'm looking for – is there any convention for turning the "sent." abbreviation into a single symbol? It seems like something that might become more common as more digital publication platforms offer automated citation features, particularly if their content is published in a non-static format (EPUB vs. PDF) and thus might span a variable number of pages depending on screen size. Commented Nov 5, 2015 at 7:19

3 Answers 3

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While not yet in usage I suggest the "silcrow". Here is an archive link and text of this post for future reference:

In my cursory (internet) search I could not seem to find a symbol that means “sentence”.

I was typing an email, had put “2-3¶s” for shorthand and also wanted to put “3-4[symbol for sentence]s” but no symbol was to be found (and it wouldn’t be recognizable/understood anyway).

pilcrow-silcrow comparison

How about it Unicode?

Authored by Jared Eliason on Thu, 20 Mar 2014 21:27:14 GMT.

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  • I saw this during my search too, and I rather like it! It is in a manner of speaking an example of visual back-formation using the pilcrow as the base. I believe that this should be the accepted answer, since it fits the wording of the question (it is an obscure, prior symbol), but I'd like to wait and see if any more-established contenders are submitted here. For now, here's a resounding +1 from me! Commented Nov 15, 2015 at 5:14
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    I like it because it seems to be such a natural evolution. It makes me wonder why it's not already in use.
    – Misneac
    Commented Nov 15, 2015 at 6:00
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    Agreed. From our modern English-language perspective, it seems fitting that since the pilcrow resembles a P for paragraph, this "silcrow" ought to resemble an S for sentence. Naturally, this is in a way a case of folk etymology, and the pilcrow did not always resemble a backwards P, but such considerations are irrelevant if we are aiming to create a new symbol. However, I'm still holding out hope that there is a historic example of a sentence sign or an archaic equivalent thereto. Commented Nov 15, 2015 at 6:16
  • I looked at proofreading symbols charts in numerous places and aside from the most widely used they're remarkably inconsistent. I had high hopes for finding one myself in some archaic edition, but no dice so far.
    – Misneac
    Commented Nov 15, 2015 at 6:22
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    One issue with this is that if it is used in manual proofreading or written by hand in other contexts it will look like a double-stroke dollar sign, although the 2010 Unicode standard apparently doesn't include that separately.
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Nov 15, 2015 at 11:10
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I like to use the "¢" character. Most everyone is familiar with the symbol, is found on most keyboards, is rarely used to express units of currency, and the English pronunciation echos the word "sentence".

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  • I particularly like this because it has a lot in common with the historical pilcrow symbol evolution! Plus it's already unicode'd so we can all start using it today :)
    – j6m8
    Commented Sep 28, 2021 at 16:04
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I like silcrow. Another possibility is the integral sign, ∫, or an uppercase Ṡ. In context lots of options work. It lacks the logical aesthetic of Jared Eliason's ¶1.Ṡ2, but if that brought you to a manner of speaking, then I made my point, and I'll full stop.

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  • Hi, welcome to EL&U. Do any references back up the integral sign as a sentence sign?
    – livresque
    Commented Apr 26, 2021 at 22:58
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    No, it's a cute alternative. It's just useful. In the right context, anything works, including §. Commented Apr 28, 2021 at 1:28

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