Consider the following photo of the Westminster Cathedral:

An inscription on Westminster Cathedral

What are those separator-dots called? I see them on many inscriptions. Why is it there?

1 Answer 1


It is called the interpunct.

Empty space to separate words as we do now is not a universal phenomenon. Just as well the Romans might ask why we leave space between words instead of putting a dot in between or spelling all the words together.

The dots mark word boundaries, but I am not sure if they are added more for legibility or similarity to ancient inscriptions. Following ancient conventions does give a certain prestigious feel to an inscription.

In ancient Rome one would either separate words by an interpunct or not at all. See this question for the development of word spacing.

  • 2
    Interestingly, most word processors for Roman-alphabet languages have a setting letting you see whitespace as symbols, and interpuncts are typically used for spaces.
    – JAB
    Aug 31, 2017 at 14:30

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