Rules and Examples

asteriskThe asterisk is a punctuation mark that looks like a little star ( * ).

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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."

Word Origin

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.

Uses of the asterisk

1. Use an asterisk or asterisks to indicate a footnote at the bottom of the page.

  • 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.

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.

woman writing

2. Use an asterisk in advertisements to indicate there is extra information.



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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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