Guillemets (//, or //; French: [ɡijmɛ]), or angle quotes, are a pair of punctuation marks in the form of sideways double chevrons (« and »), used instead of quotation marks in a number of languages. Sometimes a single guillemet is used for another purpose. They are not used officially in the English language, although they are occasionally used to indicate that some text was translated from another language into English for the reader's benefit.
Guillemets may also be called angle, Latin, or French quotes / quotation marks.
Guillemet is a diminutive of the French name Guillaume (equivalent to English William), after the French printer and punchcutter Guillaume Le Bé (1525–98). Some languages derive their word for guillemets analogously: the Irish term is Liamóg, from Liam 'William' and a diminutive suffix.
Guillemets are used pointing outwards («like this») to indicate speech in these languages and regions:
- Azerbaijani (used alongside "...")
- Bulgarian (rarely used; „...“ is official, but "..." prevails)
- Chinese (《 and 》 are used to indicate a book or album title)
- Esperanto (usage varies)
- Estonian (marked usage; „...“ prevails)
- French (separated by non-breaking spaces « like this », except in Switzerland)
- North Korean (in South Korea " is used)
- Polish (acceptable and defined to indicate a quote inside a quote by some language standards, but less common. See the main article for details)
- Portuguese (used mostly in European Portuguese, due to its presence in typical computer keyboards; considered obsolete in Brazilian Portuguese)
- Romanian; only to indicate a quotation within a quotation
- Russian, and some languages of the former Soviet Union using Cyrillic script („...“ is also used for nested quotes and in hand-written text)
- Spanish (uncommon in daily usage, but commonly used in publishing)
- Swiss languages
Guillemets are used pointing inwards (»like this«) to indicate speech in these languages:
- Croatian (marked usage; „...” prevails)
- Czech (marked usage; „...“ prevails)
- Danish („...“ is also used)
- Esperanto (very uncommon)
- German (except in Switzerland; for printed matters, „...“ is used in handwriting)
- Hungarian (only as a secondary quote, inside a section already marked by the usual quotes)
- Polish (used to indicate a quote inside a quote as defined by dictionaries; more common usage in practice. See the main article for details)
- Serbian (marked usage; „...“ prevails)
- Slovak (marked usage; „...“ prevails)
- Slovene („...“ and "..." also used)
- Swedish (this and »...» are rarely used; ”...” is the common and correct form)
Guillemets are used pointing right (»like this») to indicate speech in these languages:
- Finnish (”...” is the common and correct form)
- Swedish (this and «...» are rarely used; ”...” is the common and correct form)
A guillemet is sometimes used to indicate direction, for example:
- fast forward button on a media player, or fast rewind indicated by the complementary guillemet. Though, there are also separate Unicode characters in Miscellaneous Technical block for this meaning: U+23E9 (⏩) and U+23EA (⏪), respectively.
- a chevron on road signage to show road direction, or multiple chevrons pointing in the same direction for emphasis
- as an alternative to an ellipsis in a document, for example to indicate additional content. The guillemet is balanced in the spine height of the line for most fonts, so it is more visible than an ellipsis.
Guillemets in computing
Guillemets are often used on buttons that enable forward and backward navigation across a set of items (for example in Visual Basic, MS Access, email clients, article comment sections, etc.). Often a guillemet signifies navigation to the first («) or last (») item in a list, while a corresponding single angle (not actually a guillemet) signifies navigation to the previous (<) or next (>) item.
Typing "«" and "»" on computers
|«||Alt + 0171|
|»||Alt + 0187|
With a US International Keyboard and corresponding layout, Alt Gr+[ and Alt Gr+] can also be used. The characters are standard on French Canadian keyboards and some others.
Macintosh users can type "«" as ⌥ Opt+\ and "»" as ⌥ Opt+⇧ Shift+\. (This applies to all English-language keyboard layouts supplied with the operating system, e.g. "Australian", "British", "Canadian", "Irish", "Irish Extended", "U.S." and "U.S. Extended". Other language layouts may differ). In French-language keyboard layouts ⌥ Opt+7 and ⌥ Opt+⇧ Shift+7 can be used. On Norwegian keyboards, ⌥ Opt+⇧ Shift+v for "«", and ⌥ Opt+⇧ Shift+b for "»", can be used.
For users of Unix-like operating systems running the X Window System, creation of the guillemet depends on a number of factors including the keyboard layout that is in effect. For example, with US International Keyboard layout selected a user would type Alt Gr+[ for "«" and Alt Gr+] for "»". On some configurations they can be written by typing "«" as Alt Gr+z and "»" as Alt Gr+x. With the compose key, press Compose+<+< and Compose+>+>.
|Unicode||Windows code pages||Character entity reference||Compose key|
|«||LEFT-POINTING DOUBLE ANGLE QUOTATION MARK||U+00AB||0171||AB||171||«||Compose+<+<|
|‹||SINGLE LEFT-POINTING ANGLE QUOTATION MARK||U+2039||8249||8B||139||‹||Compose+.+<|
|»||RIGHT-POINTING DOUBLE ANGLE QUOTATION MARK||U+00BB||0187||BB||187||»||Compose+>+>|
|›||SINGLE RIGHT-POINTING ANGLE QUOTATION MARK||U+203A||8250||9B||155||›||Compose+.+>|
Despite their names, the characters are mirrored when used in right-to-left contexts.
Gmail offers an orange guillemet as an optional star that can be applied to messages. Gmail also uses single and double angles to denote messages sent directly to the recipient, although it calls them arrows rather than guillemets.
Microsoft Word uses guillemets when creating mail merges. Microsoft use these punctuation marks to denote a mail merge "field", such as «Title», «AddressBlock» or «GreetingLine». Then on the final printout, the guillemet-marked tags are replaced by the corresponding data outlined for that field by the user.
Guillemet vs. guillemot
In Adobe Systems font software, its file format specifications, and in all fonts derived from these that contain the characters, the word is incorrectly spelled "guillemot" (a malapropism: guillemot is actually a species of seabird) in the names of the two glyphs: guillemotleft and guillemotright. Adobe acknowledges the error.
Likewise, X11 mistakenly calls them "XK_guillemotleft" and "XK_guillemotright" in the file keysymdef.h.
- Stern, Roger; Silvestri, Marc; Rubinstein, Josef (1987). The X-Men vs. The Avengers #1. New York City: Marvel Comics Group. p. 9.
- Character design standards - Punctuation 1
- decodeunicode.org . decode . LEFT-POINTING DOUBLE ANGLE QUOTATION MARK
- "Advanced search". google.com.
- "How can I tell if a message was sent to just me or to a mailing list?". google.com.
- Adobe Systems Inc. (1999). PostScript Language Reference: The Red Book (3rd ed.). Addison Wesley. Character set endnote 3, page 783. ISBN 9780201379228. OCLC 40927139.
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