Asterism (typography)

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Asterism (typography)
In UnicodeU+2042 ASTERISM
Different from
Different fromU+0B83 TAMIL SIGN VISARGA

In typography, an asterism, , is a typographic symbol consisting of three asterisks placed in a triangle, which is used for a variety of purposes. The name originates from the astronomical term for a group of stars.[1]

Asterisms in use
Asterisms used as dinkuses in the James Joyce novel Ulysses, the "Wandering Rocks" chapter, from the 1922 edition.[2] The 1961 edition used a hollow white star (☆), and the 1984 edition used a row of three asterisks.

In typography, it was originally used as a type of dinkus (see below), though increasingly rarely.[3]

It can also be used to mean "untitled" or author or title withheld – as seen, for example, in some editions of Album for the Young by composer Robert Schumann ( 21, 26, and 30).[4]

In meteorology, an asterism in a station model indicates moderate snowfall.[5][6]


A dinkus is a typographical device to divide text, such as at section breaks. Its purpose is to "indicate minor breaks in text",[7] to call attention to a passage, or to separate sub-chapters in a book. An asterism used this way is thus a type of dinkus: nowadays this usage of the symbol is nearly obsolete.[3] More commonly used dinkuses are three dots or three asterisks in a horizontal row.[8][9] A small black and white drawing[10] or a fleuron ()[9] may be used for the same purpose. Otherwise, an extra space between paragraphs is used. A dinkus may be used in conjunction with the extra space to mark a smaller subdivision than a sub-chapter.

Among older Hungarian Americans and Polish Americans, dinkus is an archaic term for Easter Monday.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ From the Greek astēr (star) Alexander Humez, Nicholas D. Humez (2008). On the Dot: The Speck That Changed the World, p. 72 & 186n. ISBN 978-0-19-532499-0.
  2. ^ Joyce, James (1922). Ulysses. London, Paris: Egoist Press, John Rodker. p. 240 – via
  3. ^ a b Radim Peško, Louis Lüthi (2007). Dot Dot Dot 13, p. 193. Stuart Bailey, Peter Bilak, eds. ISBN 978-90-77620-07-6.
  4. ^ Taruskin, Richard (2005). The Oxford history of western music, Volume 3, p. 311. ISBN 978-0-19-516979-9.
  5. ^ Ahrens, C. Donald (2011). Essentials of meteorology: an invitation to the atmosphere (6th ed.). Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole. p. 461. ISBN 9780840049339. OCLC 651905769.
  6. ^ "Station Model Information for Weather Observations". National Weather Service Weather Prediction Center. Retrieved 2019-07-16.
  7. ^ Hudson, Robert (2010). The Christian Writer's Manual of Style. p. 396. ISBN 978-0-310-86136-2.
  8. ^ Lundmark, Torbjorn (2002). Quirky Qwerty: the story of the keyboard @ your fingertips. University of New South Wales. p. 120. ISBN 9780868404363.
  9. ^ a b David Crystal (2016). Making a Point: The Pernickety Story of English Punctuation. London Profile Books. ISBN 9781781253519.
  10. ^ James Phillip McAuley (1964). "Quadrant". 8. H.R. Krygier: 33. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  11. ^ Elizabeth Hafkin Pleck (2001). Celebrating the Family: Ethnicity, Consumer Culture, and Family Rituals. Harvard University Press. p. 90. ISBN 9780674002302.