What Is The Pipe Symbol ( | ) And How Do You Use It?

The pipe symbol is not a mark that most people will regularly encounter. Unless someone engages in computing, physics, or mathematics, they may never see proper use of this character. Needless to say, it’s very unlikely you’ll ever see it in writing. But what does this unique symbol represent?

What is a pipe symbol?

A pipe symbol is a typographical mark that resembles a vertical line ( | ). This mark is also known by many other names, such as a vertical bar or a vertical line.

When do you use a pipe symbol?

The pipe symbol is not considered a punctuation mark and has no accepted or common usage in either formal or informal writing outside of its use in an emoticon or two.

Instead, the pipe symbol is used in fields such as mathematics, physics, and computing. For example, two pipe symbols are used to indicate that two lines are parallel: “AC || BD” would be read in math as “Line AC runs parallel to line BD.” In computing, the pipe symbol is known as a command line that allows you to send a command.

This means that you are unlikely to ever see the pipe symbol used or need to use it yourself outside of the fields of physics, computing, or advanced math.

Take this quiz to see how much you know about the pipe symbol and other typographical symbols.

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