There are a lot of punctuation marks that were used in the past that have been buried under ‘obsolete symbols.’
The Hedera is one of them. Although such marks are infrequently used nowadays, their ‘obsolete’ tag is almost invalid.
You can still use the hedera and other uncommon typographical tools in your writing. Before I get to the part where I tell you how you can use the Hedera in your writing, let me give a bit of its history.
Let’s get started.
What is the Hedera Punctuation Mark?
The hedera punctuation mark draws its name from the Old World woody vines: genus hedera. The name, hedera, translates to ivy in Latin, and that’s why this punctuation mark’s symbol is a floral heart that resembles a vine.
The hedera is also called a fleuron, a word which has a French root word, “floron.” And you guessed right, florin is the French word for flower.
The hedera is commonly used as a punctuation mark or, sometimes, as a decorative symbol.
The history of the hedera stretches back to early Greek and Latin texts. In early Latin and Greek texts, the hedera was used as a paragraph divider.
Even though this typographical mark was among the first paragraph dividers, it has been replaced by pilcrows.
Writers use pilcrows (paragraph marks) to divide long documents or to start new paragraphs.
Before the hedera found itself in the obscurity club, it was used as an alternative to the bullet point mark, occupying blank spaces left by indentation and for pure ornamentation by typographers in ancient Greece.
This punctuation also served the convenient purpose of creating fancy borders and decorations because you didn’t have to draw the marks one by one. This way, it saved time and energy when creating decorations around the text.
Most word processors still have this punctuation mark, but if you can’t find it in the program that you are using, try searching for it using fleuron.
How to use it
In Greek and Latin texts, the hedera was typically used as an ornamental symbol. It was usually used to break paragraphs and decorate the paragraphs or pages.
Although this punctuation mark is non-existent in most modern writing, you can still find it in many typefaces that include it as a glyph.
To have the hedera in your writing, you either add it by “copying and pasting” it or by using its Unicode character. The Unicode for the vertical variant of the Hedera is U+2766 (❦), and for the horizontal variant, it is U+2767 (❧).
9 Other Uncommon Typography and Punctuation Marks
The acclamation point looks like two exclamation points have been merged. It is used to show an enthusiastic feeling or approval. Use it when you are welcoming someone or when showcasing approval for an event.
This is a star-shaped character used to break up chapters, verses, stories, and other similar bodies of text. An asterism is a cluster of stars in astronomy, and that’s why the punctuation asterism looks like a group of stars.
One asterisk mark looks like a star, but an asterism consists of three asterisk marks in a triangular formation, earning it the name “triple asterisk.”
Just like the hedera, its usage has declined; instead, line breaks and bolded lines are commonly used.
An authority point is an exclamation mark, but it looks like a sword or knife pointing at a dot. It is used to indicate the expertise and authority of the writer or the seriousness of the text.
You would be forgiven for mistaking a certitude point for an authority point. The only difference between the two is that a certitude point has a flat horizontal line while an authority point has a line that curves downward.
A certitude point is used to demonstrate the writer’s confidence in the written passage but without providing relevant research to back up their claim.
A double point looks like a confused question mark. It is used to indicate doubt.
We all have—at a certain point—seen a sentence with lots of question marks bundled together to indicate an intensified confusion. However, that is—or should I say, that was—the job of a doubt point.
It’s just my instinct, but an ElRey mark could have its roots in the Spanish language. If you understand a little bit of written Spanish, you know that the exclamation mark is upside down. And an ElRey mark sort of merges the English exclamation with the Spanish one.
The ElRey mark indicates positivity or joyfulness.
You might not have known this, but you’ve been using “?!” incorrectly all this time. Whatever statement you feel needs this combo, doesn’t need it! It needs the interrobang (‽).
It is so plain to see that the interrobang is the same as “?!” but instead of two symbols, it is one. You can create a keyboard shortcut for it and save yourself the stress of looking for two separate keys.
This punctuation mark looks just like a question mark, but facing backward. The irony point is used to indicate a hidden layer of meaning in that sentence. When used, it means that there’s meaning that isn’t as plain as the text.
The irony point can also be used for rhetorical questions, hence it is sometimes referred to as a rhetorical question mark.
This punctuation mark is commonly known as the “double dagger.” In the past, the double dagger was used to mark surplus or redundant text that had to be removed from a draft.
Presently, an obelisk is used to indicate a footnote if an asterisk was previously used. The double dagger is sometimes referred to as “the reference mark.”
The fact that the Hedera and other typography and punctuation marks are rarely used today, makes them even more appealing to a writer who wants to produce unique works.
Rather than condemning these symbols to the “worthless museum” of typography, I would rather consider them priceless antiques.
I know we have all gotten used to our commas, periods, and exclamation marks, but I’m sure it would do us more good than harm if we tried using one of these uncommon marks.