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A Blue Perspective: What's your favourite blip?

What's your favourite blip?
11 October 2004

The default is "-". The one I most use is ">". One of the weird ones is "§".

It's that little marker/divider/blip that appears in the title of most web pages. On the homepages of weblogs it's normally something that lends the site a bit of character – another defining moment in individualism. On an actually useful site it helps to delineate parts of the title – sections, phrases, subtitles.

I dislike using a hypen/dash because in Windows the application title is preceded by a hyphen, so I think it's good to differentiate the site title from the application title. The pipe ("|") is just plain wrong, because aside from looking rude inbetween brackets, it already has the semantic meaning of logical or. (But maybe that doesn't matter in a page title) I like using ">" or "<" on commercial sites where the user drills deeper into the site, as they connote a refinement of the information on the page e.g. BigCo > Tools > Spanners. Although it's probably misused on my weblog homepage.

So, what's your favourite blip? (You can put character codes in the comments if you want, I'll see if I can fix 'em)

And hey, I might write something of greater consequence later in the week :o]


1/55. 11 October 2004 @ 02:40, Jason G. wrote:

I use a »

2/55. 11 October 2004 @ 02:47, Rob Mientjes wrote:

Indeed. The » rocks. » for me, mostly.

And yes, I noticed the small note. Don't leave us in the unknown!

3/55. 11 October 2004 @ 03:17, Lars Holst wrote:

ampersand pound-sign one eight seven »

4/55. 11 October 2004 @ 06:47, Valette wrote:

I like the ·

5/55. 11 October 2004 @ 07:31, pr10n wrote:

I prefer the : myself. As for the pipe, I doubt 90% of the people out there know about its logical use.

6/55. 11 October 2004 @ 08:59, Dan Bowling wrote:

Well, I have to disagree with your feelings of wrongness of the pipe. For most people, the pipe has no meaning (and for those who understand it's meaning, the context is not there to undermine the interpretation.) What about the default dash? Doesn't it mean minus in just about any other context? What's wrong with a symbol having multiple meanings. A pipe is a standard navigational delimiter, look across the bottom of countless second and third generation websites who use it in their list style navigation.

The pipe adds character in it's own style. Take"

Look at their title, they use the default dash, but their logo uses a pipe. I believe there is a case of a site where the pipe would make perfect sense.

7/55. 11 October 2004 @ 09:00, Dan Bowling wrote:

Wow, I apologize for that coding in there... guess I will read the instructions better next time.

8/55. 11 October 2004 @ 10:02, Miles Macfarlane wrote:

Right single angle-quote (code 8250;). I agree that hyphens do not provide visual separation with the browser name.
I like the semantic value of greater-than, but it looks a bit clunky and is omitted from the file name when saving from IE.

9/55. 11 October 2004 @ 11:29, The Man in Blue wrote:

Although the hyphen does mean minus, in a line of text you'd normally think it would be a hyphen. Both are valid uses for the symbol. In any case, I feel that what the Windows developers were probably looking for was an em or en dash.

A pipe is used in navigation partially because of its logical connotations -- in a list of items it gives you the option of selecting one of them: an "or" operation. Of course, it has also been appropriated by some purely for its vertical line appearance.

10/55. 11 October 2004 @ 11:36, Jonathan Snook wrote:

Ain't nothing wrong with the hyphen. It creates enough delineation from the rest of the title. And considering most people probably don't notice it in the title bar, it's more important how it will be seen and used elsewhere. I recently made comment on creating usable page titles

I'd be interested to hear how screen readers handle the various punctuation in page titles and which would provide a better experience for the user.

The > works for me.

11/55. 11 October 2004 @ 12:08, Benjamin wrote:

I'm a fan of the interpunct:

(·); it looks like a dash but also has a bit of character unto itself. It's minimalist compared to some of the angle brackets, and not very distracting. I can't believe I just said that about a punctuation mark.

12/55. 11 October 2004 @ 12:23, The Man in Blue wrote:

I think the best thing about the interpunct is how awesome its name is! :o]

13/55. 11 October 2004 @ 14:40, david gouch wrote:

I've wondered at the widespread adoption of the right angle quote (») as a title separator. I mean, it's an ending quotation mark in some languages, so that would be like having:

The Man In Blue " Writing " Perspective Archives

So the pipe character is wrong, the angle quote is wrong, the hyphen is wrong,...

Really, I don't think it matters; the point is to separate, so if you want to do it with a section marker (§), then go right ahead.

14/55. 11 October 2004 @ 15:59, Craig C. wrote:

I'm a fan of the double-colon (::). The four dots form an almost-perfect square.

15/55. 11 October 2004 @ 17:49, Matthew Pennell wrote:

For me, a big consideration is how whatever 'blip' I use will be interpreted by screen reader software. I'm not really that bothered what is used from a design perspective, but I would like to avoid pissing off blind users by making them sit through:

"My Site colon-colon-colon Homepage colon-colon-colon Search Results"

16/55. 11 October 2004 @ 19:39, Lars Holst wrote:

The interpunct is very sleek and minimalist, but perhaps a little too discrete?

The double-colon looks good, particularly since, as Craig points out, it forms a near-perfect square.

There is nothing wrong with using a pipe, although it seems to be more commonly associated with its role as a separator for navigation items.

Has anyone tried the forward slash? I belive it could work too.

It would indeed be interesting to find out how screen-readers pronounce these symbols.

17/55. 12 October 2004 @ 00:12, Simon Jessey wrote:

I use the colon in the title element of my website. For example, "si-blog: Document Title". The method has served me well thus far.

18/55. 12 October 2004 @ 05:42, Jacob Rask wrote:

What are your opinions in using more visual characters, like ★ (used on I have no idea how that will be read out in screen readers, all I know is that that particular char works on both my Win and Mac box..

19/55. 12 October 2004 @ 07:19, Al Abut wrote:

Hey <a href="#comment14">Craig C</a>, me too! I didn't know anyone else out there was fond of the :: double colon either. I last used it on <a href="">my latest site for work</a>, for example.

20/55. 12 October 2004 @ 07:20, Al Abut wrote:

Oh crap, that's what I get for not reading the comment disclaimer, my bad.

21/55. 12 October 2004 @ 08:57, Jason Foss wrote:

The pipe is read as "vertical line" in JAWS (popular screen reader) - so it sounds like:

"My site vertical line products vertical line widgets"

I think most "blips" don't sound as good as they look...

22/55. 12 October 2004 @ 10:18, Hesam wrote:

Count me in for the »

23/55. 12 October 2004 @ 17:24, Nathan wrote:

I'm happy with a simple "Site Name, Document Title." on commercial sites, as for non-commercial sites it all depends on my mood at the time. No philosophy in really.

24/55. 12 October 2004 @ 22:04, Unearthed Ruminator wrote:

To tell the truth, I very rarely pay attention to the title bar (I think that most of my sites have used the - though). Anyone know of any stats that show how many people do or don't?

25/55. 12 October 2004 @ 22:51, marko wrote:

I like », / and › which appears to be less disturbing than ».

Here's a table of unicode characters:

Take a look at numbers from 9654 thru 9660. Too bad some browsers doesn't support them.

26/55. 13 October 2004 @ 02:24, David House wrote:

I use the hyphen (-) as to me > implies some kind of hierarchy: on my site the blip is just used to seperate the name and tagline. The reason I don't use » is outlined in a discussion that took place a while back [1] and more specifically one particular response to do with screenreaders [2].


27/55. 13 October 2004 @ 04:55, Mike N. wrote:

whats the code for the >>? I like that!

28/55. 13 October 2004 @ 05:23, César wrote:

Count me with the double colon crowd.

29/55. 13 October 2004 @ 09:28, liorean wrote:

I personally like to use a scheme like this:

Main page: "[site name]"
Subpages: "subpage : [site name]"
Pages in subcategories: "subpage : [sitename : category]"

If I build deeper hierarchies, everything is just added inside the brackets in order of decending generality (as I prefer to see it, instead of increased specificity), using colon for separator.

30/55. 13 October 2004 @ 11:38, Frank wrote:

I like the ol' "→" arrow.
It is simple, rendered correctly in most browsers, and clearly shows parent-child relationships.
Aesthetically, I prefer the "»", but as noted before, it is a quotation mark for some languages (French, maybe more...). I also like the more exciting "↦," "⇛," "⇝," "⇉," "⇥," "↬," and "↠" characters, but they are not well supported *Internet Explorer*.

31/55. 14 October 2004 @ 02:16, Kim wrote:

I didn't see my favorite listed. I like using the "tilde" mark (~) for separation. I know it's not as "businesslike" for some sites, but my site is called "Dramatic Design" so it kind of "fits" I think. :o)

I do use the pipe for separation in menu items sometimes and I think it looks nice and clean for business sites. For the more "artsy" sites, I still use the tilde.

My 2 cents....


32/55. 14 October 2004 @ 12:38, Matt Wilson wrote:

Personally, I normally use either • (the bullet character) or a simple . (period), unless it's a real conservative site, when I'll use the old "Site Name: Page Name."

I share the concern with the »; `Title " Page` would be totally wrong, and we should probably try and create meaning that works at least somewhat in other cultures and languages...

33/55. 15 October 2004 @ 03:40, Roger Johansson wrote:

I like and use the pipe/vertical bar, | , for most sites. I also reverse the order in the title:

document title | category | site name

or just

document title | site name

I think it makes bookmarks, browser windows and tabs easier to keep track of.

One exception is the home page, where I normally use just "site name" or "site name | some blurb".

I read a discussion on this a while back...
*goes Googling for a bit*
Ah, found it:

34/55. 16 October 2004 @ 20:59, Stefan wrote:

I'm more of a ~ kind of guy really...



35/55. 19 October 2004 @ 11:15, ACJ wrote:

I like to respect the semantics of characters as much as possible. Sure, 00BB looks nice, but it is a quotation mark: the Right-Pointing Double Angle Quotation Mark, to be precise.

I like the Solidus (slash) or the Rightwards Arrow myself. Not only do they look good; they also are more correct, IMO.

On my personal site, though, I use an entirely different mechanisme: I mark up the title of every page as I see how it'd make the most sense as human written/readable text. The home page is called "ACJ’s," and my weblog is called "ACJ’s Weblog." The archive page of this month, for example, is titled "ACJ’s Weblog—December 2003," etc.

My 2 cents.

36/55. 20 October 2004 @ 02:06, Gemini6Ice wrote:

I tend to simply use colons for title blips. However, I have different in-window blips. I like to use the mathematical "contains" symbol ( ⊃ ) for <a href="">The Orphanage</a> because it very nicely represents the idea of hierarchy, sets, and groupings.

However, it shows up as just a square in IE on some Windows machines, which is a bit frustrating. Aren't ASCII codes supposed to be standard? *Grumble grumble*

37/55. 20 October 2004 @ 02:06, Gemini6Ice wrote:

Err. I forgot that html tags were escaped:

38/55. 20 October 2004 @ 06:56, Gabriel Mihalache wrote:

My site is and I use the weirdest one. I think it's meant to separate subcategories, or something like that. I love old print conventions... I should look more into the stuff I use!

» and &rarrow; are also big winners!

39/55. 20 October 2004 @ 12:32, Paul Connolley wrote:

Whilst I currently place my website title within parentheses, I have no problem with the pipe character.

I see a mention of the | character being used to represent logical OR. That it does. OR, not XOR, means "and/or". In a binomial statement, XOR would be the opposite of AND with OR being one, both or all. It would logically follow that a pipe separated list of titles would indicate their potential relevance and the areas in which they may reside. But of course I may be behaving too logically.

40/55. 20 October 2004 @ 19:25, Maksim Rossomachin wrote:

41/55. 20 October 2004 @ 21:25, Dave wrote:

I'd have to agree that the interpunct (comment #11) looks good.

42/55. 21 October 2004 @ 22:41, Faruk Ates wrote:

I'm the boring kind with a simple hyphen. No fancy stuff for me ;)

43/55. 24 October 2004 @ 02:42, Jon Hehir wrote:

The hyphen/minus and the interpunct are what I use... and I hate the pipe.

44/55. 3 November 2004 @ 04:48, luke dorny wrote:

I do like the arrows in comment 30 alot, but must consider his comments about the dreaded EXPLORER SYNDROME.

as a result, i think i prefer the » (Option»Shift»Backslash) or the Interpunct (Option·Shift·9).

Another blip i've wanted to use, just because of it's shape is the ? (Option?Shift?B), but of course, in sans-serif doesn't work too well. in Lucida, it's a nice swash that looks like a ƒ (OptionƒF) without the crossbar.

differentiation is an issue here, but it would be great if we all used the same blip that was read to screenreaders as a common blip | blap / blop » blup · bloop ? blep (ad·nauseum).

45/55. 3 November 2004 @ 05:05, luke dorny wrote:

Maybe the &2620; would be the perfect solution. (teehee)

46/55. 3 November 2004 @ 05:13, luke dorny wrote:


47/55. 3 November 2004 @ 19:57, enufo wrote:


48/55. 4 November 2004 @ 05:01, luke dorny wrote:

Cameron, perhaps someone can write an article about UTF-8 doctypes to allow said blips....

Any thots?

(let's try this again...)

49/55. 4 November 2004 @ 05:03, luke dorny wrote:

? (Character Palatte calls this "SKULL AND CROSSBONES")

50/55. 4 November 2004 @ 08:39, The Man in Blue wrote:

This might help:

51/55. 9 November 2004 @ 08:17, Dave Marks wrote:

Just found this via which has clips of how jaws reads some of the common "blips"

52/55. 19 November 2004 @ 13:53, Alex Kadis wrote:

I like this one:
∴ (in case it doesn't show up, it is 3 dots in the shape of a pyramid)
...also known as there4 or therefore

53/55. 8 December 2004 @ 04:17, Dave Vogt wrote:

I've just switched from the right double angle quote to the interpunct. It would be handy if when you reference these you mention codepoints and whatnot. Some programs are kinda sloppy in their encoding.

54/55. 14 January 2005 @ 05:21, Joe wrote:

I like the » or a simple double-colon (::).

55/55. 28 January 2005 @ 22:36, Francois Jordaan wrote:

Great link, Dave Marks (51/54).

If you're interested in what the blips sound like, Fangs on Firefox -- by the same author, on the same site -- does an excellent job without requiring Jaws. Try it on this page, for example. Based on that, I think I'll be recommending the interpunct in future. Dash and colon are also OK, if not repeated.

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