BRL: Braille through Remote Learning

Intro to Braille Course

Session 3 page
Session Objectives

Session Topics
  • Braille Punctuation
  • Braille Special Symbols

  • Writing Exercise
  • Reading Exercise

    Other BRL Courses
  • Transcribers Course
  • Special Codes Course

    BRL Reference Desk
  • Summary of Rules
  • Contractions Lookup
  • Contractions List
  • Braille only contractions
  • Problem Words
  • Webster's Dictionary
  • Braille Formats (BANA rules for transcribing textbooks)
  • Reading List

    Other Resources
  • Contact instructor
  • Online gradebook
  • Main BRL page
  • Flashcard program (Java)
  • Downloadable Software
  • Braille Supplies

    Other Links
  • American Printing House for the Blind (APH)
  • Braille Authority of North America (BANA)
  • National Braille Association (NBA)
  • National Library Service (NLS, Library of Congress)

  • Session 3: Braille Punctuation

    Braille contains the same punctuation marks as is found in print. These marks, with their braille equivalents. are shown in the table below. **BE PATIENT** while the list loads, it's a long one!

    1. apostrophe: 3
    2. asterisk: 35 35
    3. bar (oblique stroke): 34
    4. opening bracket/brace: 6 2356
    5. closing bracket/brace: 2356 3
    6. colon: 25
    7. comma: 2
    8. dash: 36 36
    9. double dash: 36 36 36 36
    10. decimal point: 46
    11. ditto: 5 2
    12. dollar sign: 256
    13. ellipsis: 3 3 3
    14. exclamation point: 235
    15. fraction line: 34
    16. hyphen: 36
    17. number sign: 3456
    18. opening parenthesis: 2356
    19. closing parenthesis: 2356
    20. pence (sterling coinage: 145
    21. percent: 4 25 1234
    22. period: 256
    23. pound (sterling coinage): 123
    24. question mark: 236
    25. double opening quotation mark: 236
    26. double closing quotation mark: 356
    27. single opening quotation mark: 6 236
    28. single closing quotation mark: 356 3
    29. section sign: 234 3
    30. semicolon: 23
    31. shilling (sterling coinage): 234

    General Usage:

    Braille punctuation marks follow that of print. For example, in the sentence:

    boy, he sure was afraid!

    the braille would look like:

    12 135 13456 2 125 15 234 136 1235 15 2456 1 234 1 124 1235 1 24 145 235

    Notice that in the braille, the spacing is the same as you would see in print. One exception to this rule is one space after a period, unlike two as is normally the case in print.

    Specific Rules for punctuation marks:

    Quotation marks:

    Normally, double quotation marks are used for the outermost quotations, and single quotes are used on inside quoted material, such as in:

    "Bob says that the show 'Melrose Place' is not his favorite," said Kim.

    Sometimes, especially in texts published in Europe, this use of quotation marks is reversed (single quotes on the outside, doubles inside). In braille, you should use the doubles on the outside and singles on the inside. This is in accordance with the general guiding principle to try to save space without comprising clarity!


    Hyphens are used to divide words in-between syllables (for use when running out of room on a line) and to separate parts of compound words. Hyphens cannot be used to divide words EXCEPT between syllables. A piece of advice: **you need to have a good dictionary**.

    If a hyphen is used in print, you need to determine if it is being used to separate a word at the end of a line, or if it is for a compound word. If it is used at the end of a line, you don't need to use a hyphen in braille (unless, of course, you are also at the end of a line!). If the hyphen is for a compound word, then follow the print format.

    Hyphens should never stand alone, and a hyphen should never start the beginning of a new line. In phrases like:

    six- or seven-story house

    a space should be used after the hyphen on "six", just like in print. Like in print, no spaces are left before or after hyphens in normal usage.

    Hyphens are also used to indicate omitted letters in a word. When you see this in print, use one hyphen for each omitted letter, without spacing.

    Hyphens are always used to separate inclusive dates, such as "1955-1996". If there is an omission, such as "1965- ", no space is left after the hyphen.


    Dashes are often difficult to recognize or differentiate from hyphens in normal print, but there is a simple rule:

    Hyphens join, dashes separate.

    No spaces are left before or after dashes, unless it is used to indicate an incomplete sentence. You may have a dash at the beginning or end of a sentence, but don't divide a dash between lines!

    Double Dash:

    Double dashes are typically used in print to indicate ommisions, such as in:

    "The judge sentenced Mr. ____ to consecutive life terms."

    Sometimes in print, you will see a dash used to indicate an omission. Transcribers are generally encouraged not to "edit". Keep in mind, however, that your task is to make the braille easy for the reader, so don't check your common sense and your judgement at the door!

    Number Sign:

    The number sign occupies an unusual place in braille. Some texts will classify the number sign as a "composition" sign, i.e. a specialized symbol that does not appear in print. The number sign preceeds the letters "a" through "j" to create the numbers. For example, to create the number "12":

    3456 1 12

    The number sign (dots 3-4-5-6) converts the "a" and the "b" to the number "12". To create numbers, simply preface the appropriate numbers with the number sign!

    If the symbol "#", which is used in print to indicate a number, is used prior to a number, it is omitted in the braille text. Instead, you should braille the abbreviation "No.", followed by a space then the number sign and the appropriate letters.

    The number sign is not cancelled by a punctuation mark, such as in the number "6,023":

    3456 124 2 245 12 14

    The number sign is, however, affected by the dash, the question mark, and a parentheses. Also, if a hyphenated number is broken between lines, the number sign needs to be repeated at the beginning of the next line.

    You can also include letters past "j", as in the ordinal number "2nd":

    3456 12 1345 145

    If you have text such as "Apartment 4a", you will need to use the letter sign, which you will encounter later!

    Sometimes in print you will see the letter "s" used after a number to indicate plural, such as "16s". You should insert the apostrophe (dot 3) before the s, even though it is not in the print.


    The ellipsis is used in print to indicate the omission or a word or group of words, and should be spaced and punctuated as a word. In an italicized sentence, the ellipsis is not italicized -- otherwise, it is treated as if it were a regular word.

    Other punctuation marks:

    The other punctuation marks follow their usage in print. No specific rules or problems should arise with their use in braille!

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