Daggers — tall vs. superscript

Are superscripted daggers drawn that way to be consistent with the size and position of the asterisk and superscript figures in a font? Or is it just a stylistic choice?


  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 1,834
    I'm not sure I've ever seen superscript daggers. If they were to be included in a font, I would likely make them variants, not the default form, and would harmonise them with the asterisk, since their most likely use would be a non-numeric footnote indicators.
  • Some Typophile discussion here.
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,524
    edited April 2013
    The six historical reference marks (in order), which have been made obsolete by figures:

    * Asterisk
    † Dagger
    ‡ Double Dagger
    § Section
    || Parallel
    ¶ Paragraph (Pilcrow)

    Sometimes a double asterisk was included.
    Sometimes the manicule was added at the end.

    I always match the Daggers’ height to that of the Section and Pilcrow, and give them ample height.

    I have included a small, raised Dagger and Double Dagger in the Superscript feature of some fonts. That way, if a writer/editor is using a system that runs: Asterisk, Double Asterisk, Dagger, Double Dagger—with footnotes at the bottom of each page—then all those superscript glyphs will be similar in size and position. And if more than four marks are required on any page, or if the footnotes are amassed at the end of the work, I would expect the writer/editor to use numbers throughout.

    The superscript feature in Microsoft Word may be responsible for the idea that the Daggers should be superscripted when used as reference marks in running text, because a full-sized Dagger in that situation can look obtrusive if one is not used to the historical convention, or if one thinks it too quaint.

  • Kent LewKent Lew Posts: 904
    The reference symbols, while indeed primarily historical and not as common any more, are not quite “obsolete.”

    The Chicago Manual of Style still addresses them — §13.50, §16.35, §16.63, & §16.65 in the 15th edition — and mentions that they may have their use when multiple systems of notes are employed (e.g., both foot- and endnotes) or for references in a table or other matter where the presence of chemical or mathematical superscripts might lead to possible confusion.

    Rare, but not quite obsolete.

    I, too, have experimented with drawing dagger.sups, daggerdbl.sups, and section.sups for use in these situations. (Nick’s list is historically accurate, but CMOS only currently prescribes up to the § before then doubling.)
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