In typography, an asterism, from the Greek astēr ('star'), is a rarely used and nearly obsolete symbol consisting of three asterisks placed in a triangle (⁂). It is used to "indicate minor breaks in text," call attention to a passage, or to separate sub-chapters in a book. It is Unicode character U+2042⁂asterism (HTML: ⁂). In Windows it is possible to use the key combination ALT+8258 to produce the character, but it has very limited support in the default fonts (Arial Unicode MS / Lucida Sans Unicode / MS Mincho).
Asterisms in James JoyceUlysses, the "Wandering Rocks" chapter, from the 1922 edition. The 1961 edition used a hollow star (☆), the 1984 edition used a dinkus (***).
Often, this symbol is replaced with three consecutive asterisks (called a dinkus), more than three asterisks, or three or more dots. Otherwise, an extra space between paragraphs is used. An asterism or its analogue may be used in conjunction with the extra space to mark a smaller subdivision than a subchapter.
It can also be used to mean 'untitled' or author or title withheld, for example, some editions of Album for the Young by composer Robert Schumann (no.'s 21, 26, and 30). Besides originating from the same word, "the rarely used asteriscus, which Isidore of Seville says 'is put in place of something that has been omitted so as to call attention to the omission'," also resembles the asterism.
The asterism should not be confused with the similar looking therefore sign—U+2234∴therefore (HTML: ∴∴)—which is composed of three round dots rather than asterisks.
^Full original: Asteriscus apponitur in iis, quae omissa sunt, ut illucescant per iam notam, quae deesse videntur. Stella enim ἀστήρ graeco sermone dicitur, a quo Asteriscus est derivatus. Figura 1Isidore of Seville. Etymologiae. p. 33.