Is there a difference between a shaded and an unshaded pilcrow? I am trying to format a block letter and in the unarranged copy, I am supposed to correct- there are both unshaded and shaded pilcrows.

  • When I google unshaded and shaded pilcrows I don't immediately find anything that tells me what exactly you're asking about here. Are you perhaps asking about any significance as to whether the "loop" is filled or unfilled? Personally I doubt it, but you can read that Wikipedia article yourself to find out more. Mar 14, 2019 at 15:14
  • Yes, I mean is there a big difference as to whether the pilcrow is filled or unfilled. Thank you for your response.
    – Cristina
    Mar 14, 2019 at 15:36
  • @Cristina No, there is no difference. They’re just graphical variants, like a and ɑ or g and ɡ – some fonts have one, some have the other. As such, this isn’t related to English; it’s the same for all languages. Mar 14, 2019 at 15:41
  • I'm sure it makes a difference with musical notes (quavers, crochets, breves), but I can't remember and can't be bothered to look up what that difference is. Mar 14, 2019 at 16:29
  • @FumbleFingers The ones with the filled heads are shorter, there's only one with an unfilled head and a tail (the minim) which is shorter than a semibreve which is shorter than a breve. The last two are open and have no tails. This is not like the filled pilcrow because the filled and unfilled notes are inherently different, a little like different letters.
    – BoldBen
    Mar 15, 2019 at 0:38

1 Answer 1



This is a matter of style/font.

The pilcrow is usually drawn similar to a lowercase q reaching from descender to ascender height; the loop can be filled or unfilled.

There is evidence that an unfilled loop was used in the original character, looking somewhat like this: ⸿.

Over time, the pilcrow evolved to become aligned and the loop was filled in standard practise:

...the symbol [loop] was filled in with dark ink and eventually looked like the modern pilcrow (¶).

However, even though a filled pilcrow is the most common form, this does not mean an unfilled pilcrow is incorrect. As I have mentioned, it's a matter of style. Take your pick!

Quotes from Wikipedia


  • You say "take your pick", but isn't this really a matter of which font you choose? I don't know much about these things, but surely any given font would include one or the other (not both) - same as with a / ɑ and g / ɡ as pointed out by @Janus above. In which case the type of pilcrow you get might effectively be predetermined by other choices you already made for other reasons. Mar 15, 2019 at 14:35
  • @FumbleFingers 99% of keyboards do not include the pilcrow. Most people will copy and paste the pilcrow from the Internet. When they paste it into say a Word document, the pilcrow will format in the font used when it was copied. Therefore if you want an unfilled pilcrow symbol, copy and paste the unfilled pilcrow and it will render this way regardless of the font you are inputting with.
    – Lordology
    Mar 15, 2019 at 18:09
  • But @janus above says the type of pilcrow you get depends on the font you're using. Surely if you cut&paste an example from the Internet (or enter the Unicode value directly, if your OS / WP allows), that wouldn't override what the current active font looked like for this character? Mar 15, 2019 at 18:20
  • @FumbleFingers If this is what Janus has said, I am afraid he is mistaken. If you cut+paste from the Internet, it will override the current font, unless you paste without formatting (Ctrl+Shift+V). But this diverts from the point. paste-without-formatting is very uncommon; you can still pick your pilcrow by pasting normally
    – Lordology
    Mar 15, 2019 at 18:51

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