How to use an asterisk

How to Use an AsteriskThe asterisk is a punctuation mark that looks like a little star ( * ).

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How to Use an Asterisk

The asterisk is made on your keyboard by holding the SHIFT key and pressing the 8 on the top number line. We use the asterisk in English writing to show that a footnote, reference or comment has been added to the original text. Many people incorrectly pronounce (say) the word “asterisk.”

The word “asterisk” is pronounced “aste-risk.”

The word “asterisk” comes from the Latin word “asteriscus” and the Greek word “asterikos” meaning “little star.” The asterisk was first used in printing and writing in the early 1600s.How to Use an Asterisk

  • A footnote is an explanation or a comment at the bottom of a page that refers back to a specific part of the text.
  • If there are multiple footnotes (more than one), use one asterisk for the first footnote, two asterisks for the second and so on. *first footnote **second footnote ***third footnote
  • Be sure that footnotes at the bottom of the page match the asterisks in the original text.

Example: There are many forms of punctuation in the English language. Three common forms of end punctuation are the period, question mark and exclamation mark.

The period is used as the end of a sentence that is a command or a statement.* The period tells the reader that the sentence has ended.

The question mark ends sentences that are written as questions. These sentences may begin with words such as why, how, when, where or what.

The exclamation mark is used at the end of sentences to give emphasis or show excitement.** (There are two footnotes, or comments, added to this text. The two footnotes are then explained at the bottom of the page.) *The period is also called “full stop” because it tells the reader that the sentence has ended.  **The exclamation mark is also called an exclamation point.

How to Use an Asterisk

Examples: Today Only!* How to Use an Asterisk *discount is good in-store and online How to Use an Asterisk Get a new mobile phone in November for only $29.99* *price is for new customers only

These were the uses of the asterisk. Now that you know them, it is time to practice! Read and do exercises.

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How to Use an Asterisk a starlike sign (*) used in printing to indicate footnote references, omissions, etc.

Origin of asterisk

Late Latin asteriscus from Classical Greek asteriskos, diminutive of ast?r, star
How to Use an Asterisk


  1. A star-shaped figure (*) used chiefly to indicate an omission, a reference to a footnote, or an unattested word, sound, or affix.
  2. Mathematics A symbol used to indicate multiplication, as in 2 * 3 = 6.

transitive verb

as·ter·isked, as·ter·isk·ing, as·ter·isks To mark with an asterisk.

Origin of asterisk

Middle English from Late Latin asteriscus from Greek asteriskos diminutive of astēr star ; see ster-3 in Indo-European roots.

Usage Note: The phonological phenomenon of metathesis involves the transposition of sounds or syllables in a word. Metathesis is responsible for the common rendering of ask as aks or ax. (This issue is discussed comprehensively at ax.

) Similarly, one sometimes hears asterisk pronounced with the “sk” transposed to produce a (ks) sound, as though the word were spelled asterix or astericks.

Then, perhaps because this symbol is often written as one of a series (as ***, for example), some people apparently infer that astericks is the plural of a singular asterick , pronounced with just a final (k) sound.

In 2014, the Usage Panel overwhelmingly preferred the traditional pronunciation for asterisk, although 24 percent found the asterix pronunciation acceptable and 19 percent found asterick acceptable. A mere 7 percent personally preferred the asterix pronunciation, and only 6 percent preferred the asterick one. See Usage Note at ax2.

How to Use an AsteriskNoun

(plural asterisks)

  1. Symbol (*).
  2. (sports, US) A blemish in an otherwise outstanding achievement.They came into the tournament highly ranked, but with a little bit of an asterisk as their last two wins had been unconvincing.
  3. (biology) Alternate of Asteriscus.


(third-person singular simple present asterisks, present participle asterisking, simple past and past participle asterisked)

  1. To mark with an asterisk symbol (*)


From Late Latin asteriscus, from Ancient Greek ἀστερίσκος (asteriskos, “a little star, asterisk, used in manuscripts to mark passages”), diminutive of ἀστήρ (aster, “a star”).

See also: Asterix How to Use an Asterisk

(1) See Asterisk PBX.

(2) In programming, the asterisk or “star” symbol (*) means multiplication. For example, 10 * 7 means 10 multiplied by 7. The * is also a key on computer keypads for entering expressions using multiplication. Sometimes called a “splat,” the asterisk is also used in programming as a dereferencing symbol. See dereference and star-dot-star.

See also:  ‘half staff’ or ‘half mast’

(3) On calculator keyboards, the * key is the total key, and the “X” key is the multiplication key.

SentencesSentence examples

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Asterisk sentence examples

  • But this is merely a footnote, an asterisk in the record book of humanity.
  • Hannah was confused by the asterisk in her math homework, because she didn't know it meant to multiply.
  • New samples are marked with an asterisk.
  • Important vocabulary words in this section are marked with an asterisk.
  • When asked to use a special character in her passwords, Whitney always uses an asterisk.
  • Authors will occasionally mark things with an asterisk, showing that there is a footnote or explanation for them.
  • Bullet point – Just place an asterisk before the text!
  • I would recommend marking important content that you come across in the textbook with an asterisk.
  • I will mark the most important topics on the sheet with an asterisk so that they will stand out.
  • add an asterisk to search for words with the same prefix.
  • An asterisk denoted that the green banana fritters were vegan – really weird.
  • The lateral tibial plateau is marked with an asterisk.
  • When only allele symbols are displayed an asterisk should precede them.
  • The ” mark ” facility is not enabled by a facility field containing an asterisk.
  • sequester iron at the position marked by the asterisk.
  • An asterisk (*) denotes a third-party trademark.
  • Any I find broken I'm putting an asterisk next to.
  • asterisk *. Medical Route Application can be made by the medical route.
  • truncate a word in Business Source Elite add an asterisk at the end of the word.
  • In those works marked with an asterisk copious references to the recent literature of the subject will be found.
  • They sequester iron at the position marked by the asterisk.
  • To truncate a word in Business Source Elite add an asterisk at the end of the word.
  • The asterisk denotes that instruction requires a set of x-axis data.
  • Among later editions we may mention the following, those with explanatory or critical notes being marked with an asterisk: * Scaliger (1577, &c.), *Broukhusius (2nd ed., 1577), *Passeratius (1608, with index verborum), *Vulpius (1755, with index verborum), *P. Burmann (and Santen) (1780), *Lachmann (1816), *Hertzberg (1843-1845), L.
  • The intercalary years of the cycle are distinguished by an asterisk.

When to Use Asterisks in Academic Writing – Enago Academy

Imagine a graduate student writing an important paper on bioethics or psychoanalysis having a difficult time stating an idea. How can she mark this important idea? She thinks about using different symbols. A hashtag (#)? No, that has a clear usage on Twitter these days.

A dollar sign ($). No. Obviously that would not work. An asterisk (*)? That might work; however, she does not really have a clear idea about how an asterisk can be used in writing, both general writing and academic writing.

Let us find out how much we know about the use of asterisks.

Using an Asterisk in Academic Writing

The asterisk’s use as a marker in footnotes and endnotes dates back to the medieval period.One of the more common uses of an asterisk in academic writing today is its use in footnotes or endnotes.

When you use an asterisk as a footnote or endnote symbol, it clearly indicates more information about the addressed topic.

We find this additional information at the bottom of the page (footnotes), or, at the end of the chapter or end of the paper (endnotes), along with the (*) mark.

Sometimes, even the article titles contain asterisk mark. In his essay “Dicta”, Peter Goodrich writes:

“The asterisk footnote now tends to play the role of listing institutional benefactors, influential colleagues, student assistants, and the circumstances surrounding the production of the article.” This is a usage that is becoming more common. It is necessary because it can offer information about corresponding authors, tables, data, and other ideas related to the topic of an article.

Asterisks in Research Articles

In academic writing, an asterisk is used to give credit to corresponding authors. Asterisks (*) also denote the co-author or authors. These co-authors should be listed below the title in a clear format.

For example: first name, middle initial (if applicable), and last name. In addition, the names and addresses of the universities or institutes where the work was done should be listed below the co-author names.

See also:  How to work with negative exponents

Asterisks are also important in scientific studies. One important usage is in tables where asterisk is the main symbol used to show statistical significance.

Since asterisk is the main symbol used, it is important to note that they should always be placed in the same cell as the value they are noting.

This gives the reader the ability to understand the significance of the information provided.

Using an Asterisk in General Writing

Besides academic writing, we use asterisk in general writing. Often, when writing an inappropriate word, we write the first letter, followed by a series of asterisks. These are known as grawlix. Cartoonist Mort Walker began this usage in his comics.

Also, you will see asterisks used in advertisements.

For example, we look into this advertisement in a newspaper by a car dealership: All New Models Now On Sale*! The asterisk here denotes that there is more important information provided at the bottom of the page.

Not many people know how to use symbols in academic writing. Make sure you use the asterisk mark correctly in your research paper.

How often have you used an asterisk in your own work? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.


Typographical symbol or glyph
For other uses, see Asterisk (disambiguation) and * (disambiguation).
For the comic book series, see Asterix.

This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.Find sources: “Asterisk” – news · newspapers · books · scholar · JSTOR (April 2018) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)

*AsteriskIn UnicodeU+002A * ASTERISK (HTML *)RelatedSee alsoU+203B ※ REFERENCE MARK (HTML ※) (komejirushi)

Look up * or asterisk in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.

The asterisk /ˈæst(ə)rɪsk/ *, from Late Latin asteriscus, from Ancient Greek ἀστερίσκος, asteriskos, “little star”,[1][2] is a typographical symbol or glyph. It is so called because it resembles a conventional image of a star.

Computer scientists and mathematicians often vocalize it as star (as, for example, in the A* search algorithm or C*-algebra).

In English, an asterisk is usually five-pointed in sans-serif typefaces, six-pointed in serif typefaces,[3] and six- or eight-pointed when handwritten. Its most common use is to call out a footnote.

It is also often used to censor offensive words, and on the Internet, to indicate a correction to a previous message.

In computer science, the asterisk is commonly used as a wildcard character, or to denote pointers, repetition, or multiplication.


The asteriskos used in an early Greek papyrus.
Early asterisks seen in the margin of Greek papyrus.

The asterisk has already been used as a symbol in ice age cave paintings.[4]
There is also a two thousand year old character used by Aristarchus of Samothrace called the asteriskos, ※, which he used when proofreading Homeric poetry to mark lines that were duplicated.[5] Origen is known to have also used the asteriskos to mark missing Hebrew lines from his Hexapla.[6] The asterisk evolved in shape over time, but its meaning as a symbol used to correct defects remained.

In the Middle Ages, the asterisk was used to emphasize a particular part of text, often linking those parts of the text to a marginal comment.[7] However, an asterisk was not always used.

How to Use an Asterisk in Grammar

An asterisk is a small, star-shaped symbol (*) used in specific grammatical situations. Asterisk grammar usage has several purposes in written communication or formal writing. In some cases, the asterisk can be used in logos, brand names or to highlight or draw attention to certain words. In this case, the use is casual and informal.

The asterisk has several specific uses including as a way to denote that something is omitted and to indicate an annotated footnote.

Typically, a reader knows to look for the note associated with the asterisk and understands the asterisk grammar definition.

Footnotes are located at the end of the text, so a reader will look to the end to find the corresponding asterisk to read the additional information.

Historically, the asterisk is one of the oldest textual marks dating back over 5,000 years. Some linguistic historians believe it is the oldest editorial mark. The word asterisk is Greek, derived from the word asteriskos, which means ‘little star.’ The asterisk is a versatile editorial mark. However, it’s important to understand its proper usage and the guidelines for it.

Asterisk Use

The most common use for an asterisk is to denote a footnote. In other words, if more information is included about a written statement, the asterisk would direct the reader to the information below. The additional information usually follows the original section of text; often located at the bottom of the page.

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The asterisk can also be used to clarify a disclaimer. The additional information that follows the asterisk can also clarify or give specify parameters. Again, the asterisk symbol serves to direct the reader to the additional information.

Additionally, the asterisk can be used to omit certain letters in some words. One specific example includes when a direct quote is used. For reported stories, often times writers use direct quotes from people who have first-hand experience. In the event a witness uses unfavorable language, the asterisk would be used to omit certain letters.

Asterisk Examples

What Are Asterisks (*) and What Are They Used for in Writing?

 An asterisk is a star-shaped symbol (*) primarily used to call attention to a footnote, indicate an omission, point to disclaimers (which often appear in advertisements), and dress up company logos. An asterisk is also often placed in front of constructions that are ungrammatical.

The term asterisk comes from the Greek word asteriskos meaning little star. Along with the dagger or obelisk (†), the asterisk is among the oldest of the textual marks and annotations, says Keith Houston in “Shady Characters: The Secret Life of Punctuation, Symbols, and Other Typographical Marks.” The asterisk may be 5,000 years old, making it the oldest mark of punctuation, he adds.

The asterisk appeared occasionally in early medieval manuscripts, according to M.B.

Parkes, author of “Pause and Effect: An Introduction to the History of Punctuation in the West,” adding that in printed books, the asterisk and obelus were used principally in conjunction with other marks as signes de renvoi (signs of referral) to link passages in the text with sidenotes and footnotes. By the 17th century, printers were placing notes at the bottom of pages and enumerating them using an ordered sequence of symbols, mainly the asterisk or dagger [†].

Today, asterisks are used mainly to point the reader to a footnote. According to “The Chicago Manual of Style, 17 Edition,” you can use asterisks (as opposed to numbers) when only a handful of footnotes appear in the entire book or paper:

“Usually an asterisk is enough, but if more than one note is needed on the same page, the sequence is * † ‡ §.”

Other styles use asterisks slightly differently when indicating footnotes. Cues for references are generally rendered with (1) or 1, but sometimes an asterisk is used between parentheses or alone, according to the “Oxford Style Manual.”

You can even attach an asterisk to the title of an article, as Peter Goodrich notes in his essay “Dicta,” published in “On Philosophy in American Law.”

“The asterisk footnote now tends to play the role of listing institutional benefactors, influential colleagues, student assistants, and the circumstances surrounding the production of the article.”

Used as such, the asterisk points readers to a footnote listing names, patrons, and even a congratulatory message.

Many publications and stories include quoted material to add credibility to a piece and heighten interest.

But people don't always talk in the Queen's English; they often curse and use swear words, providing a challenge to writers when publishers prohibit the use of salty language—as most do.

Enter the asterisk, which is often used to indicate letters that have been omitted from cuss words and bad language, such as s**t, where the mark replaces two letters in a term referring to excrement.

“Rhys Barter was shocked to receive messages calling him a 't***face' and 'a**e'—we can only guess what the asterisks stand for…. Knowles later apologised, saying he had been 'sabotaged' after he left his computer unattended while filming on a building site in Liverpool.”

The dash was used to indicate the omission of letters from words as late as the early-1950s, said Eric Partridge in “You Have a Point There: A Guide to Punctuation and Its Allies.” But by the middle part of the 20th century, asterisks generally displaced the dash in nearly all such uses.

The asterisk is also used for three other purposes: to point out disclaimers and ungrammatical constructions as well as in company logos.

Disclaimers: Remar Sutton gives this example of a disclaimer in “Don't Get Taken Every Time”:

“J.C … picked up the proof of the ad that was running in Sunday's paper, a four-color spread. The headline read: 100 NEW CARS UNDER $100 PER MONTH! THIS IS NOT A LEASE!*

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