Middle dot

"Middot" redirects here. For the religious tractate, see Middot (Talmud).
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An interpunct ( · ), also called an interpoint,[1] is a punctuation mark consisting of a dot used for interword separation in ancient Latin script and in some modern languages as a stand-alone sign inside a word. It is present in Unicode as code point U+00B7 · middle dot (HTML: · ·).

The dot is vertically centered, e.g. "DONA·EIS·REQVIEM", and is therefore also called a middle dot or centered dot (Commonwealth: centred dot). In addition to the round dot form, inscriptions sometimes use a small equilateral triangle for the interpunct, pointing either up or down. Such triangles can be found on inscriptions on buildings in the twentieth century. Ancient Greek, by contrast, had not developed interpuncts; all the letters ran together. The use of spaces for word separation did not appear until much later, some time between 600 and 800 AD.

The dot operator (also called middle dot and visually similar or identical to the interpunct) is a multiplication sign (instead of the × often used in English-speaking countries): "a multiplied by b" is written either as ab or using juxtaposition as ab, depending on context. It also discriminates the scalar product (ab) from the vector cross product (a × b) or exterior product (ab) in vector multiplication.

In written language

Various dictionaries often use the interpunct (in this context, sometimes called hyphenation point) to indicate syllabification within a word with multiple syllables.[2]

British English

In British typography, an interpunct is sometimes called a space dot. Traditionally it has been primarily used as a decimal point, e.g. 3·14 as opposed to the SI formats 3.14 and 3,14, but this usage is less common in typography than in handwritten text, as a full stop (period) is easier to type.

In British publications up to the mid-1970s, especially scientific and mathematical texts, the decimal point was commonly typeset as a middle dot. When the British currency was decimalized in 1971, the official advice issued was to write decimal amounts with a raised point (thus: £21·48) and to use a decimal point "on the line" only when typesetting constraints made it unavoidable. The widespread introduction of electronic typewriters and calculators (many of which were manufactured and imported from places like Japan and the United States) soon afterwards was probably a major factor contributing to the decline of the raised decimal point, although it can still sometimes be encountered in academic circles (e.g., Cambridge University History Faculty Style Guide 2010[3]) and its use is still enforced by some UK-based academic journals such as The Lancet.[4]


In the Shavian alphabet of English, the middle dot is used before a word to denote it as a proper noun.


In Catalan, the punt volat (literally, "flown dot") is used between two ⟨l⟩ (thus: ⟨l·l⟩) in cases where each belongs to a separate syllable (e.g. cel·la, 'cell'). This is to distinguish the true "double-l" pronunciation Template:IPA link/core] from that of the letter-combination ⟨ll⟩ (without a dot) which in Catalan stands for ] (e.g. cella, 'eyebrow').

In orthographic descriptions, ⟨l·l⟩ is called ela geminada ("geminate l") and ⟨lldoble ela. A period or a hyphen is frequently used when a middle dot is unavailable: col.lecció or col-lecció. This is nonetheless considered a misspelling. Unicode has unique code points for the letters ⟨Ŀ⟩ (U+013F) and ⟨ŀ⟩ (U+0140), but they are compatibility characters and are not frequently used nor recommended.[5] The preferred Unicode representation is ⟨⟩ (U+006C + U+00B7). The use of the ⟨⟩ bullet (U+2022, ) is strongly discouraged on aesthetic grounds.

In Medieval Catalan the symbol ⟨·⟩ was sometimes used to note certain elisions, much like the modern apostrophe (see Occitan below).

There is no separate keyboard layout for Catalan; punt volat can be typed using Shift-3 in the Spanish (Spain) layout.


The Chinese language sometimes uses the interpunct (called the partition sign) to separate the given name and the family name of non-Chinese, or unsinicized or desinicized minority ethnic groups in China, for example, 威廉·莎士比亚 (Wēilián·Shāshìbǐyǎ)[6] is the transliteration of "William Shakespeare", and the partition sign is inserted in between the characters signifying the sound of "William" and those for "Shakespeare". In Taiwan the Unicode code point U+2027, Hyphenation Point, is recommended by government as a fullwidth punctuation to separate the given name and the family name of non-Chinese.[7] Therefore 威廉‧莎士比亞 is the transliteration of "William Shakespeare" (traditional Chinese). The Chinese partition sign is also used to separate book title and chapter title when they are mentioned consecutively (with book title first, then chapter).

In Chinese, the middle dot is also fullwidth in printed matter, but the regular middle dot (·) is used in computer input, which is then rendered as fullwidth in Chinese-language fonts. Note that while some fonts may render the Japanese katakana middle dot as a square under great magnification, this is not a defining property of the middle dot that is used in China or Japan.

Swedish sinologist Bernhard Karlgren used a middle dot to represent the glottal stop in his reconstruction of medieval Chinese.

See also proper name mark.

Taiwanese Minnan

In Pe̍h-ōe-jī for Taiwanese Hokkien, middle dot is often used as a workaround for dot above right diacritic because most early encoding systems did not support this diacritic. This is now encoded as U+0358 ͘ combining dot above right (see ). Unicode did not support this diacritic until June 2004. Newer fonts often support it natively; however, the practice of using middle dot still exists. Historically, it was derived in the late 19th century from an older barred-o with curly tail as an adaptation to the typewriter.


In Franco-Provençal (or Arpitan), the interpunct is used in order to distinguish the following graphemes:

  • ch·, pronounced [ʃ], versus ch, pronounced [ts]
  • , pronounced [ʒ], versus j, pronounced [dz]
  • before e, i, pronounced [ʒ], versus g before e, i, pronounced [dz]


The Greek ánō stigmē or ánō teleía (άνω στιγμή/άνω τελεία, lit. "upper dot") is a punctuation mark equivalent to the semicolon and is often incorrectly expressed as a middle dot; Unicode provides a unique code point: U+0387 · greek ano teleia.[8][9]


Main article: Japanese punctuation

Interpuncts are often used to separate transcribed foreign words written in katakana. For example, "Can't Buy Me Love" becomes 「キャント・バイ・ミー・ラヴ」 (Kyanto·bai·mī·ravu). A middle dot is also sometimes used to separate lists in Japanese instead of the Japanese comma ("、" known as tōten). Dictionaries and grammar lessons in Japanese sometimes also use a similar symbol to separate a verb suffix from its root.

However, the Japanese writing system usually does not use space or punctuation to separate words (though the mixing of katakana, kanji, and hiragana gives some indication of word boundary).

In Japanese typography, there exist two Unicode code points:

  • U+30FB katakana middle dot, with a fixed width that is the same as most kana characters, known as fullwidth.
  • U+FF65 halfwidth katakana middle dot

The interpunct also has a number of other uses in Japanese, including the following: to separate titles, names and positions: 課長補佐・鈴木 (Assistant Section Head Suzuki); as a decimal point when writing numbers in kanji: 三・一四一五九二 (3.141 592); and in place of hyphens, dashes and colons when writing vertically.


Interpuncts are used in written Korean to denote a list of two or more words, more or less in the same way a slash (/) is used to juxtapose words in many other languages. In this role it also functions in a similar way to the English en dash, as in 미·소관계, "American–Soviet relations". The use of interpuncts has declined in years of digital typography and especially in place of slashes, but, in the strictest sense, a slash cannot replace a middle dot in Korean typography.


The dot called interpunct was regularly used in classical Latin to separate words. It often took the shape of a triangle, point down, and sometimes of a mid-line comma. It fell out of use circa 200 CE, and Latin was written scripta continua for several centuries.


In Occitan, especially in the Gascon dialect, the interpunct (punt interior, literally, "inner dot", or ponch naut for "high / upper point") is used to distinguish the following graphemes:

  • s·h, pronounced [s.h], versus sh, pronounced [ʃ], for example, in des·har 'to undo' vs deishar 'to leave'
  • n·h, pronounced [n.h], versus nh, pronounced [ɲ], for example in in·hèrn 'hell' vs vinha 'vineyard'

Although it is considered to be a spelling error, a period is frequently used when a middle dot is unavailable: des.har, in.hèrn, which is the case for French keyboard layout.

In old Occitan, the symbol · was sometimes used to denote certain elisions, much like the modern apostrophe, the only difference being that the word that gets to be elided is always placed after the interpunct, the word before ending either in a vowel sound or the letter n:

  • que·l (que lo, that the) versus qu'el (that he)
  • From Bertran de Born's Ab joi mou lo vers e·l comens (translated by James H. Donalson):

Bela Domna·l vostre cors gens
E·lh vostre bel olh m'an conquis,
E·l doutz esgartz e lo clars vis,
E·l vostre bels essenhamens,
Que, can be m'en pren esmansa,
De beutat no·us trob egansa:
La genser etz c'om posc'e·l mon chauzir,
O no·i vei clar dels olhs ab que·us remir.

Domna·l [ˈdonnal] = Domna, lo ("Lady, the": singular definite article)
E·lh [eʎ] = E li ("And the": plural definite article)
E·l [el] = E lo ("And the")
E·l = E lo ("And the")

No·us [nows] = Non vos ("(do) not... you": direct object pronoun)
E·l = En lo ("in the")
No·i [noj] = Non i ("(do) not... there") // Que·us [kews] = Que vos ("that (I)... you")

O pretty lady, all your grace
and eyes of beauty conquered me,
sweet glance and brightness of your face
and all your nature has to tell
so if I make an appraisal
I find no one like in beauty:
most pleasing to be found in all the world
or else the eyes I see you with have dimmed.

Old Irish

In many linguistic works discussing Old Irish (but not in actual Old Irish manuscripts), the interpunct is used to separate a pretonic preverbal element from the stressed syllable of the verb, e.g. do·beir "says". It is also used in citing the verb forms used after such preverbal elements (the prototonic forms), e.g. ·beir "carries", to distinguish them from forms used without preverbs, e.g. beirid "carries".[10] In other works, the hyphen (do-beir, -beir) or colon (do:beir, :beir) may be used for this purpose.


Runic texts use either an interpunct-like or a colon-like punctuation mark to separate words. There are two Unicode characters dedicated for this: U+16EB runic single punctuation and U+16EC runic multiple punctuation.

In mathematics and science

In SI units the middle dot or non-breaking space is used as a multiplication sign. Only a comma or full stop (period) may be used as a decimal marker.

In mathematics, a small middle dot can be used to represent product; for example, x ∙ y for the product of x and y. When dealing with scalars, it is interchangeable with the multiplication sign: x ⋅ y means the same thing as x × y, but × is easily confused with the letter x. However, when dealing with vectors, the dot product is distinct from the cross product. This usage has its own designated code point in Unicode, U+2219 (∙), called the "bullet operator". It is also sometimes used to denote the “AND” relationship in formal logic, due to the relationship between these two operations. In situations where the interpunct is used as a decimal point (as noted above, by many mathematics teachers in some countries[weasel words]), then the multiplication sign used is usually a full stop (period), not an interpunct.

In computing, the middle dot is usually used to indicate white space in various software applications such as word processing, graphic design, web layout, desktop publishing or software development programs. In some word processors, interpuncts are used to denote not only hard space or space characters, but also sometimes used to indicate a space when put in paragraph format to show indentations and spaces. This allows the user to see where white space is located in the document and what sizes of white space are used, since normally white space is invisible so tabs, spaces, non-breaking spaces and such are indistinguishable from one another.

In chemistry, the middle dot is used to separate the parts of formulas of addition compounds, mixture salts or solvates (mostly hydrates), such as of copper(II) sulphate pentahydrate, CuSO4 · 5H2O.

Keyboard input

On computers, the interpunct may be available through various key combinations, depending on the operating system and the keyboard layout. Assuming a QWERTY keyboard layout: on OS X, an interpunct can be entered by pressing Opt+ Shift+9; in the X Window System, it can be input by pressing AltGr+.; on Microsoft Windows, it can be inserted by pressing Alt+0183 (on the numeric keypad).

Similar symbols

Symbol Character Entity Numeric Entity Unicode Code Point LaTeX[11] Notes
· · · U+00B7 middle dot \textperiodcentered Mittelpunkt
· · U+0387 greek ano teleia Greek ánō stigmē
ּ ּ U+05BC hebrew point dagesh or mappiq Hebrew point dagesh or mapiq
U+16EB runic single punctuation Runic punctuation
U+2022 bullet bullet, often used to mark list items
U+2027 hyphenation point \textbullet hyphenation point (dictionaries)
U+2218 ring operator \circ ring operator (mathematics)
U+2219 bullet operator \bullet bullet operator (mathematics)
U+22C5 dot operator \centerdot, \cdot, \cdotp dot operator (mathematics)
U+25E6 white bullet hollow bullet
U+2981 z notation spot symbol used by the Z notation[12]
U+2E30 ring point Avestan punctuation mark
U+2E31 word separator middle dot Word separator (Avestan and other scripts)
U+30FB katakana middle dot fullwidth katakana middle dot
U+FF65 halfwidth katakana middle dot halfwidth katakana middle dot
𐄁 𐂧 U+10101 aegean word separator dot Word separator for Aegean scripts[13] (Linear A and Linear B)

Characters in the Symbol column above may not render correctly in all browsers.

See also


eu:Erdiko puntu
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