the # character: more an explanation than a moan

Eagle-eyed readers may have noticed I've been using the # symbol in my Daily Moan blog items, instead of the perfectly good English No. - especially with my going on about Americanisms yesterday. In the olden days, this usage used to mystify me when I saw it in US comics. Nowadays, with Twitter 'hashtags' we are more used to it and can find it on the keyboard. Wikipedia has a good explanation of the number sign, also called the Pound sign in North America. On my keyboard it is coincidentally hidden behind the £ and 3 key, although the pound the Americans mean is the weight unit lb. Apparently on phones it's also sometimes called the octothorp. In copy editing and proofreading a # in the margin usually followed by a caret ^ (with a caret in the text indicating where) means add some space.

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