Properly Punctuated: Slash, /

Posted February 28, 2015 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Editing, Properly Punctuated, Self-Editing, Writing

Most of us know the slash — grammar-wise! — as the forward slash and use it frequently when typing in an Internet address, when we can’t decide if it’s and/or or he/she, as a shorthand for calendar dates, and let’s not forget that per.

Who knew such a simple punctuation mark could perform so many other functions as well?

Punctuation is…

…the proper use of quotation marks, commas, semicolons, colons, ellipsis, etc., including how to properly mark dialog, ahem. As Properly Punctuated is in no way complete, I would appreciate suggestions and comments from anyone…

If you’d like to track it, bookmark this page — and consider sharing this Properly Punctuated tidbit with friends by tweeting it.

Slash, /
Credit to: Burckmyer; Chicago Manual of Style
Punctuation: /
A.k.a., Forward slash, virgule, slant, or solidus.
The forward slash has several purposes:

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Joins Words
And Rule: A technical shorthand for and

Caution: Include a blank space on either side of a / if using between compound words. Also see the rule on line breaks.

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Between Single Words Between Compound Words
an insertion/deletion mutation
a Jekyll/Hyde personality
World War I / World War II
Either / Or Rule: Joins two words or phrases and means either, or, or both (Burckmyer, 157).

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The tourists use buses/taxis to get around.
he/she
s/he
his/her
and/or
Shorthand
Calendar Date Rule: An informal use with dates, although its usage can be confusing between countries as Canadians and Europeans place the date before the month.

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7/10/92
12/4/1932
Per Rule: Shorthand for per

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51 km/sec
$275/week
Replaces Period in Abbreviations Rule: Replaces the period in certain abbreviations.

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a/c
c/o
w/
w/o
Demonstrate Pronunciation Definition: Dictionaries frequently use slashes on either side of a word to demonstrate how the word is pronounced. The word is usually written phonetically. Other symbols may include brackets, backslashes, parentheses, etc.

Rule: Do not include a space after the first slash, but do include a space after the following slash.

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/slaSH/
/dikSHəˌnerē/
/ˈsemēˌkōlan/
Indicate Alternative Spellings Rule: Alternative spellings for names or words.

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Hercules/Heracles
Margaret/Meg/Maggie
gray/grey
Indicate a Calendar Year Range Rule: Replaces or includes the en dash to indicate the last part of one year and the first part of the next.

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1975/6
The guild had a nice turnout for its shows in 2004/5–2008/9.
Mathematics Rule: Using / with numbers to indicate divided by if it isn’t possible to use a fraction bar, ⅞

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3/4
173 / 24
Poetry Line Breaks Rule: Indicates the end of a line of poetry when quoted in regular text. Be sure to include a blank space on each side of the slash, so the reader isn’t confused.

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But soft, what light through yonder window breaks? / It is the east, and Juliet is the sun. / Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,
Website Address Rule: Used as single or double slashes in URLs, website addresses. A slash may also be used to indicate a computer directory path, depending upon the operating system (Also see backslash).

Line breaks should be placed AFTER a slash; never place a line break between a pair of slashes.

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