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Asterisms in use
Three asterisks used as a dinkus in the James Huneker novel Painted Veils. In this case, it is being used to accentuate the end of a particularly racy chapter, priming the reader for the change in tone.

In typography, a dinkus is a typographic symbol which often consists of three spaced asterisks in a horizontal row, i.e.     . The symbol has a variety of uses, and it usually denotes an intentional omission or a logical "break" of varying degree in a written work. This latter use is similar to a subsection, and it indicates to the reader that the subsequent text should be re-contextualized. When used this way, the dinkus typically appears centrally aligned on a line of its own with vertical spacing before and after the symbol. The dinkus has been in use in various forms since c. 1850.[1][2] Historically, the dinkus was often represented as an asterism, , though this use has fallen out of favor and is now nearly obsolete.[3]


The dinkus is used for various purposes, but many of them are related to an intentional break in the flow of the text.

Subsection break[edit]

A dinkus can be used to accentuate a break between subsections of a single overarching section.[4] When an author chooses to use a dinkus to divide a larger section,[5][6] the intent is to maintain an overall sense of continuity within the overall chapter or section while changing elements of the setting or timeline.[7][8] For instance, when the writer is introducing a flashback or other jarring scene change, a dinkus can help denote the change in setting within the overall theme of the chapter; in that case, it can be preferable to the initiation of a new chapter.[9] This technique is used especially in literary fiction.[7][9]

Intentionally omitted information[edit]

Many applications of the dinkus, including those that were common historically, have indicated intentional omission of information.[1] In these cases, the dinkus is used to inform the reader that the information has been omitted.[2] It can also be used to mean "untitled" or that the author or title was withheld. This is evident, for example, in some editions of Album for the Young by composer Robert Schumann ( 21, 26, and 30).[10]

A dinkus can also be used in any context as a simple means of abbreviation of any text.[8] The dinkus is also used specifically in this capacity within the sphere of lawmaking, particularly for city ordinances. When used in legal text, the dinkus indicates an abbreviation within amendments to code while not implying the repeal of the omitted sections.[11]


Newspapers, magazines, and other works can use dinkuses as simple ornamentation of typography, for solely aesthetic reasons.[12] When a dinkus is used primarily for aesthetic purposes, it often takes the form of a fleuron, e.g. , or sometimes a dingbat.[13] While fleurons, dingbats, and dinkuses are usually distinct, their uses can overlap.

Poetic symbolism[edit]

In some cases, the use of a dinkus has been employed in poetry in order to convey non-verbal meaning. This is exemplified in the poem Thresholes by Lara Mimosa Montes, in which the poet makes frequent use of a circular dinkus,  ○ , as a form of "punctuation at the level of the full text, rather than the phrase or the sentence" throughout the course of the work.[14]


Many variations of dinkuses are composed partially or entirely of asterisks, although other symbols can be used to achieve the same goals. Some examples include a series of dots,[15][16] fleurons,[16] asterisms, straight horizontal lines, and various other figures, such as infinity symbols.[17]


Other uses of the term "dinkus"[edit]

Among older Hungarian Americans and Polish Americans, dinkus is an archaic term for Easter Monday.[18]

In Australian English, particularly in the news media, the word "dinkus" refers to a small photograph of the author of a news article.[19][20] Outside of Australia, this is often referred to as a headshot.


  1. ^ a b A comprehensive system of grammatical and rhetorical punctuation by Consul Willshire Butterford. 1858. Page 37, page 40. Published by Cincinnati: Longley Brothers.
  2. ^ a b Shady Characters: The Secret Life of Punctuation, Symbols, and Other Typographical Marks by Keith Houston. 2013
  3. ^ Radim Peško, Louis Lüthi (2007). Dot Dot Dot 13, p. 193. Stuart Bailey, Peter Bilak, eds. ISBN 978-90-77620-07-6.
  4. ^ "The News Manual - Glossary". www.thenewsmanual.net.
  5. ^ The Christian Writer's Manual of Style by Robert Hudson. 2010. p. 386
  6. ^ "D'Alliage à Avertissement — Orthotypographie, de Jean-Pierre Lacroux (Lexique des règles typographiques françaises)". www-orthotypographie-fr.translate.goog.
  7. ^ a b The Australian Editing Handbook, By Elizabeth Flann, Beryl Hill, Lan Wang. 2014.
  8. ^ a b Orthotypographie by Jean-Pierre Lacroux.
  9. ^ a b "Five Ways I Hate Your Dinkus | Self-Publishing Review". www.selfpublishingreview.com. August 26, 2021.
  10. ^ Taruskin, Richard (2005). The Oxford history of western music, Volume 3, p. 311. ISBN 978-0-19-516979-9.
  11. ^ "Did You Know? The Dinkus". Municode - Powered by CivicPlus.
  12. ^ Digital Sub-Editing and Design by Stephen Quinn. 2012.
  13. ^ Bringhurst, Robert (2004). The Elements of Typographic Style (third ed.). Hartley & Marks, Publishers. p. 63, 290-291. ISBN 978-0-88179-206-5. Retrieved 10 November 2020.
  14. ^ Gabbert, Elisa (December 29, 2020). "How Poets Use Punctuation as a Superpower and a Secret Weapon". The New York Times.
  15. ^ Lundmark, Torbjorn (2002). Quirky Qwerty: the story of the keyboard @ your fingertips. University of New South Wales. p. 120. ISBN 9780868404363.
  16. ^ a b David Crystal (2016). Making a Point: The Pernickety Story of English Punctuation. London Profile Books. ISBN 9781781253519.
  17. ^ James Phillip McAuley (1964). Quadrant. Vol. 8. H.R. Krygier. p. 33 https://quadrant.org.au/magazine/1964/. {{cite magazine}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  18. ^ Elizabeth Hafkin Pleck (2001). Celebrating the Family: Ethnicity, Consumer Culture, and Family Rituals. Harvard University Press. p. 90. ISBN 9780674002302.
  19. ^ "Infinite Anthology". The Monthly. August 5, 2010.
  20. ^ Sadokierski, Zoe. "Why The Saturday Paper's design breeds disappointment". The Conversation.

Further reading[edit]