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 e-mail 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.