|In Unicode||U+00B6 ¶ PILCROW SIGN (¶)|
|Different from||U+00A7 § SECTION SIGN|
The pilcrow, ¶, is a handwritten or typographical character used to identify a paragraph. It is also called the paragraph mark (or sign or symbol), paraph, or blind P.
The pilcrow may be used at the start of separate paragraphs or to designate a new paragraph in one long piece of copy, as Eric Gill did in his 1931 book An Essay on Typography. The pilcrow was a type of rubrication used in the Middle Ages to mark a new train of thought, before the convention of visually discrete paragraphs was commonplace. In some medieval texts, it indicated a new sentence. In recent times, the symbol has been given a wider variety of roles, as listed below.
The pilcrow is usually drawn similarly to a lowercase q reaching from descender to ascender height; the bowl (loop) can be filled or unfilled. It may also be drawn with the bowl stretching further downwards, resembling a reversed D; this is more often seen in older printing.
The word 'pilcrow' originates from the Ancient Greek: παράγραφος (parágraphos), literally, "written on the side or margin". This was rendered in Old French as paragraphe and later changed to pelagraphe. The earliest reference of the modern 'pilcrow' is in 1440 with the Middle English word pylcrafte.
The first way to divide sentences into groups in Ancient Greek was the original παράγραφος (parágraphos), which was a horizontal line in the margin to the left of the main text. As the paragraphos became more popular, the horizontal line eventually changed into the Greek letter Gamma (⟨Γ⟩, ⟨γ⟩) and later into litterae notabiliores, which were enlarged letters at the beginning of a paragraph.
Above notation soon changed to the letter ⟨K⟩, an abbreviation for the Latin word kaput, which translates as "head", i.e. it marks the head of a new thesis. Eventually, to mark a new section, the Latin word capitulum, which translates as "little head", was used, and the letter ⟨C⟩ came to mark a new section, or chapter,  in 300 BC.
In the 1100s, ⟨C⟩ had completely replaced ⟨K⟩ as the symbol for a new chapter. Rubricators eventually added one or two vertical bars to the C to stylize it (as ⸿); the 'bowl' of the symbol was filled in with dark ink and eventually looked like the modern pilcrow, ¶.
(Scribes would often leave space before paragraphs to allow rubricators to add a hand-drawn pilcrow in contrasting ink. With the introduction of the printing press from the late medieval period on, space before paragraphs was still left for rubricators to complete by hand. However in some circumstances, rubricators could not draw fast enough for publishers' deadlines and books would often be sold with the beginnings of the paragraphs left blank. This is how the practice of indention before paragraphs was created.)
The pilcrow remains in use in modern time in the following ways:
The pilcrow is used in desktop publishing software such as desktop word processors and page layout programs to mark the end of a paragraph. It is also used as the icon on a toolbar button that shows or hides the pilcrow and similar onscreen annotations that mark hidden characters, including tabs, whitespace, and page breaks. In typing programs, it marks a carriage return that one must type.
The pilcrow may indicate a footnote in a convention using a sequence of distinct typographic symbols in sequence to distinguish the footnotes on a given page; it is the sixth in a series of footnote symbols beginning with the asterisk.
The pilcrow character was in the 1984 Multinational Character Set extension of ASCII at 0xB6 (decimal 182), from where it was inherited by ISO/IEC 8859-1 (1987) and thence by Unicode as U+00B6 ¶ PILCROW SIGN. In addition, Unicode also defines U+204B ⁋ REVERSED PILCROW SIGN, U+2761 ❡ CURVED STEM PARAGRAPH SIGN ORNAMENT, and U+2E3F ⸿ CAPITULUM. The capitulum character is obsolete, being replaced by pilcrow, but is included in Unicode for backward compatibility and historic studies.
Historically, the pilcrow symbol was included in the default hardware codepage 437 of IBM PCs (and all other 8-bit OEM codepages based on this) at code point 20 (0x14), sharing its position with the ASCII control code DC4.
¶(introduced in HTML 3.2 (1997)), or
Depending on the font used, this character varies in appearance.
In Thai, the character ๏ marks the beginning of a stanza and ฯะ or ๚ะ marks the end of a stanza.
In Sanskrit and other Indian languages, text blocks are commonly written in stanzas. Two vertical bars, ॥, called a 'double danda,' are the functional equivalent of a pilcrow.
In Amharic, the characters ፠ and ፨ can mark a section/paragraph.
In China, the 〇, which has been used as a zero character since the 12th century, has been used to mark paragraphs in older Western-made books such as the Chinese Union Version of the Bible.
It's tempting to recognize the symbol as a "P for paragraph," though the resemblance is incidental: in its original form, the mark was an open C crossed by a vertical line or two, a scribal abbreviation for capitulum, the Latin word for chapter.