Section Mark

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HTML Meaning
§ §
Section sign
This is the standard symbol used to reference individual sections of a document, especially in legal texts.

What is the Section Sign?

The section sign, represented as § and sometimes colloquially referred to as the "double s", "section symbol", or simply "section", is commonly used in legal, scholarly, and other formal texts to denote individual sections or clauses within a document. This symbol provides a clear way to reference specific parts of a text, ensuring precision in citation and discussion.

How to Use the Section Sign

To use the section sign, insert it before the number of the section being referenced.

A typical format is: § 5 or §§ 5-7

Common usages include:

  • In legal documents to refer to a specific section or clause.
  • In academic papers to point to sections of previous studies or regulations.
  • In manuals or guides to direct readers to relevant sections.

When using the symbol, it's essential to ensure that sections are clearly numbered, providing clarity for the reader.

Variations in the Use of the Section Sign Across Countries

The section sign (§) is recognized globally, but its use can vary based on local practices or cultural nuances. Below are some insights into its use in different countries:

  • United States: Commonly used in legal documents to refer to specific sections of statutes and regulations.
  • Germany: Often used to refer to individual sections (paragrafen) of statutes, e.g., "§ 90 StGB" for section 90 of the German Criminal Code.
  • Brazil: Used in legal texts to refer to the sections of statutes and laws.
  • Mexico: Used in legal contexts to refer to sections of legal documents.
  • Sweden: Denotes sections in legal documents, known as "paragraftecken."
  • Finland: Referred to as "pykälämerkki" and used in legal texts.
  • Spain: Less commonly used, but can be found in certain legal contexts.
  • Italy: Occasionally found in Italian legal documents.
  • Switzerland: Used in statutes and legal regulations.
  • Austria: Refers to sections in laws and other legal documents.

Common Mistakes in Using the Section Sign

  1. Using § Without Clear Section Numbers: Always ensure that the document has clearly numbered sections when referencing with the section sign.
  2. Mistaking it for Other Symbols: Don't confuse § with symbols like ¶ (pilcrow) or other notation symbols.
  3. Using the Double Section Sign Incorrectly: §§ should be used when referencing a range of sections, not just one.
  4. Overuse: In documents where section references are frequent, consider using a combination of words and symbols to avoid redundancy and enhance readability.

Historical Origin of the Section Sign

The section sign, known as "sectio" in Latin, has origins in ancient Roman scrolls. Scribes used a similar mark to indicate a break or pause in the text, which over time evolved into the symbol we recognize today. Its association with legal and formal documents began in the Middle Ages, where it was used to denote sections of law codes and religious texts.

How to Type the Section Sign Using Keyboard Shortcuts and Alt Codes

  • On Windows: Hold down the Alt key on your keyboard and type 0167 on the numeric keypad, then release the Alt key.
  • On Mac: Press Option + 6.
  • On many Linux systems: Press Ctrl + Shift + u, then type 00a7 and press Enter.
  • For HTML coding: Use the named entity § or the numeric entity §.

Symbols' Images

Section sign