What's your favourite blip?

11 October 2004


A Blue Perspective: What's your favourite blip?

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]


The"" rel="tag">design, The"" rel="tag">html


  1. 1/55

    Jason G. commented on 11 October 2004 @ 02:40

    I use a »

  2. 2/55

    Rob Mientjes commented on 11 October 2004 @ 02:47

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

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

  3. 3/55

    Lars Holst commented on 11 October 2004 @ 03:17

    ampersand pound-sign one eight seven »

  4. 4/55

    Valette commented on 11 October 2004 @ 06:47

    I like the ·

  5. 5/55

    pr10n commented on 11 October 2004 @ 07:31

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

  6. 6/55

    Dan Bowling commented on 11 October 2004 @ 08:59

    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. 7/55

    Dan Bowling commented on 11 October 2004 @ 09:00

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

  8. 8/55

    Miles Macfarlane commented on 11 October 2004 @ 10:02

    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. 9/55

    The Man in Blue commented on 11 October 2004 @ 11:29

    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. 10/55

    Jonathan Snook commented on 11 October 2004 @ 11:36

    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 http://www.snook.ca/archives/000249.html

    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. 11/55

    Benjamin commented on 11 October 2004 @ 12:08

    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. 12/55

    The Man in Blue commented on 11 October 2004 @ 12:23

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

  13. 13/55

    david gouch commented on 11 October 2004 @ 14:40

    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. 14/55

    Craig C. commented on 11 October 2004 @ 15:59

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

  15. 15/55

    Matthew Pennell commented on 11 October 2004 @ 17:49

    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. 16/55

    Lars Holst commented on 11 October 2004 @ 19:39

    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. 17/55

    Simon Jessey commented on 12 October 2004 @ 00:12

    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. 18/55

    Jacob Rask commented on 12 October 2004 @ 05:42

    What are your opinions in using more visual characters, like ★ (used on www.stylegala.com)? 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. 19/55

    Al Abut commented on 12 October 2004 @ 07:19

    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="The""http://superfund.sdsc.edu/">my">http://superfund.sdsc.edu/">my latest site for work</a>, for example.

  20. 20/55

    Al Abut commented on 12 October 2004 @ 07:20

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

  21. 21/55

    Jason Foss commented on 12 October 2004 @ 08:57

    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. 22/55

    Hesam commented on 12 October 2004 @ 10:18

    Count me in for the »

  23. 23/55

    Nathan commented on 12 October 2004 @ 17:24

    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. 24/55

    Unearthed Ruminator commented on 12 October 2004 @ 22:04

    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. 25/55

    marko commented on 12 October 2004 @ 22:51

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

    Here's a table of unicode characters: http://www.thefox.ch/prog/ascii-characters.php?a=9601&b=9901

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

  26. 26/55

    David House commented on 13 October 2004 @ 02:24

    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].

    [1]: http://www.codingforums.com/showthread.php?threadid=30181
    [2]: http://www.codingforums.com/showpost.php?p=156304&postcount=10

  27. 27/55

    Mike N. commented on 13 October 2004 @ 04:55

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

  28. 28/55

    César commented on 13 October 2004 @ 05:23

    Count me with the double colon crowd.

  29. 29/55

    liorean commented on 13 October 2004 @ 09:28

    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. 30/55

    Frank commented on 13 October 2004 @ 11:38

    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. 31/55

    Kim commented on 14 October 2004 @ 02:16

    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. 32/55

    Matt Wilson commented on 14 October 2004 @ 12:38

    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. 33/55

    Roger Johansson commented on 15 October 2004 @ 03:40

    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. 34/55

    Stefan commented on 16 October 2004 @ 20:59

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



  35. 35/55

    ACJ commented on 19 October 2004 @ 11:15

    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. 36/55

    Gemini6Ice commented on 20 October 2004 @ 02:06

    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""http://orphanage.gemini6ice.com">The">http://orphanage.gemini6ice.com">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. 37/55

    Gemini6Ice commented on 20 October 2004 @ 02:06

    Err. I forgot that html tags were escaped: http://orphanage.gemini6ice.com/

  38. 38/55

    Gabriel Mihalache commented on 20 October 2004 @ 06:56

    My site is individualism.ro 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. 39/55

    Paul Connolley commented on 20 October 2004 @ 12:32

    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. 40/55

    Maksim Rossomachin commented on 20 October 2004 @ 19:25

  41. 41/55

    Dave commented on 20 October 2004 @ 21:25

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

  42. 42/55

    Faruk Ates commented on 21 October 2004 @ 22:41

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

  43. 43/55

    Jon Hehir commented on 24 October 2004 @ 02:42

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

  44. 44/55

    luke dorny commented on 3 November 2004 @ 04:48

    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. 45/55

    luke dorny commented on 3 November 2004 @ 05:05

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

  46. 46/55

    luke dorny commented on 3 November 2004 @ 05:13


  47. 47/55

    enufo commented on 3 November 2004 @ 19:57


  48. 48/55

    luke dorny commented on 4 November 2004 @ 05:01

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

    Any thots?

    (let's try this again...)

  49. 49/55

    luke dorny commented on 4 November 2004 @ 05:03

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

  50. 50/55

    The Man in Blue commented on 4 November 2004 @ 08:39

    This might help:


  51. 51/55

    Dave Marks commented on 9 November 2004 @ 08:17

    Just found this http://www.standards-schmandards.com/index.php?2004/11/06/6-the-sound-of-the-accessible-title-tag-separator via 456BereaStreet.com which has clips of how jaws reads some of the common "blips"

  52. 52/55

    Alex Kadis commented on 19 November 2004 @ 13:53

    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. 53/55

    Dave Vogt commented on 8 December 2004 @ 04:17

    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. 54/55

    Joe commented on 14 January 2005 @ 05:21

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

  55. 55/55

    Francois Jordaan commented on 28 January 2005 @ 22:36

    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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