Asterism (typography)

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

In typography, an asterism ("group of stars")[1] is the typographic symbol consisting of three asterisks placed in a triangle: and is a type of Dinkus.

Nowadays the symbol is used rarely and is nearly obsolete.[2] Its purpose is to "indicate minor breaks in text",[3] to call attention to a passage, or to separate sub-chapters in a book.

Asterisms in use
Asterisms in James Joyce Ulysses, the "Wandering Rocks" chapter, from the 1922 edition. The 1961 edition used a hollow 'white star' (☆), and the 1984 edition used a 'dinkus' (***).

In more recent texts, three or more asterisks in a row, or three or more dots are more common.[2] 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 sub-chapter.

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]


The term dinkus in typography means a device to divide text. The asterism is one example. Another is three asterisks or three dots in a horizontal row.[7][8] Another use of the name Dinkus (for the same purpose) is a little black and white drawing.[9] Another symbol, the fleuron (), is often used for the same purpose.[8]

Among older Hungarian Americans and Polish Americans, the word is an archaic term for Easter Monday.[10]

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. ^ a b Radim Peško, Louis Lüthi (2007). Dot Dot Dot 13, p. 193. Stuart Bailey, Peter Bilak, eds. ISBN 978-90-77620-07-6.
  3. ^ Hudson, Robert (2010). The Christian Writer's Manual of Style. p. 396. ISBN 978-0-310-86136-2.
  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. ^ Lundmark, Torbjorn (2002). Quirky Qwerty: the story of the keyboard @ your fingertips. University of New South Wales. p. 120. ISBN 9780868404363.
  8. ^ a b David Crystal (2016). Making a Point: The Pernickety Story of English Punctuation. London Profile Books. ISBN 9781781253519.
  9. ^ James Phillip McAuley (1964). "Quadrant". 8. H.R. Krygier: 33. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  10. ^ Elizabeth Hafkin Pleck (2001). Celebrating the Family: Ethnicity, Consumer Culture, and Family Rituals. Harvard University Press. p. 90. ISBN 9780674002302.