Asterism (typography)

# Asterism (typography)

Discussion

Encyclopedia
In typography
Typography
Typography is the art and technique of arranging type in order to make language visible. The arrangement of type involves the selection of typefaces, point size, line length, leading , adjusting the spaces between groups of letters and adjusting the space between pairs of letters...

, an asterism, from the Greek astēr ('star'), is a rarely used, and "nearly obsolete", symbol consisting of three asterisks placed in a triangle . It is used to, "indicate minor breaks in text," call attention to a passage, or to separate sub-chapters in a book. It is Unicode
Unicode
Unicode is a computing industry standard for the consistent encoding, representation and handling of text expressed in most of the world's writing systems...

character .

Often, this symbol is replaced with three, sometimes more, consecutive asterisks or dots. Otherwise, an extra space
Space (punctuation)
In writing, a space is a blank area devoid of content, serving to separate words, letters, numbers, and punctuation. Conventions for interword and intersentence spaces vary among languages, and in some cases the spacing rules are quite complex....

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 subchapter.

It can also be used to mean 'untitled' or author or title withheld, for example, some editions of Album for the Young by composer Robert Schumann
Robert Schumann
Robert Schumann, sometimes known as Robert Alexander Schumann, was a German composer, aesthete and influential music critic. He is regarded as one of the greatest and most representative composers of the Romantic era....

(no.'s 21, 26, and 30). Besides originating from the same word, "the rarely used asteriscus ([omitted]), which Isidore of Seville (p. 48) says 'is put in place of something that has been omitted so as to call attention to the omission'," also resembles the asterism.

The asterism should not be confused with the similar looking therefore sign
Therefore sign
In a mathematical proof, the therefore sign is a symbol that is sometimes placed before a logical consequence, such as the conclusion of a syllogism. The symbol consists of three dots placed in an upright triangle and is read therefore. It is encoded at . While it is not generally used in formal...

— — which is composed of three round dots rather than asterisks.

## LaTeX

In the typesetting language LaTeX
LaTeX
LaTeX is a document markup language and document preparation system for the TeX typesetting program. Within the typesetting system, its name is styled as . The term LaTeX refers only to the language in which documents are written, not to the editor used to write those documents. In order to...

, an asterism can be defined as a command by inserting something similar to the code below in the LaTeX document's ‘preamble’:

\newcommand{\asterism}{\smash{%
\raisebox{-.5ex}{%
\setlength{\tabcolsep}{-.5pt}%
\begin{tabular}{@{}cc@{}}%
\multicolumn2c*\\[-2ex]*&*%
\end{tabular}}}}

An asterism can then be inserted in the body of a document by using the \asterism command.