Special Characters

Q. Is there a standard for replacing an expletive with special $%!# characters?

A. Although there isn’t a steady demand for masked expletives in scholarly prose, this is weirdly one of our frequently asked questions. (I have to wonder who is reading the Q&A—and what they are writing.) The symbols are fine for cartoons and email messages, where you may arrange them in whatever order pleases you. In formal prose, however, we find that a 2-em dash makes a d——d fine replacement device.