How to use an asterisk in grammar

Written by karen silvestri
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How to use an asterisk in grammar
(Classroom Clipart)

The word "asterisk" is a derivative of the Latin "aster," meaning "star," and hence, the asterisk is a little star. When speaking, many people make the error of omitting the second s, or replacing it with an x, ending the word with a "rik" or a "rix" rather than "risk." Such pronunciation perhaps stems from the transposition of the last two letters, s and k. The correct pronunciation requires a little preciseness, which might make some feel that it comes across as affected or pretentious speech when it is simply correct.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Use an asterisk (*) in a body of text to indicate a footnote. This placement specifies where an author wants to provide extra information on a particular subject by way of additional information or clarification.

  2. 2

    Use an asterisk in English grammar in the place of omitted material in a report or paper. For example, you may refer to a body of text that's too large to include in the paper. So at the correct reference point, place an asterisk and then at the bottom of the page provide a fuller explanation of the source.

  3. 3

    Use an asterisk to combine points or denote numerical values where there may be more than one point of clarification. For the first point, you can put an asterisk with a footnote preceded by one asterisk. For the next point, you can put two asterisks with the corresponding footnote preceded by two asterisks, and three and so on.

  4. 4

    Place an asterisk when emphasising a particular passage or word in a text that's being read or displayed. For instance, if an author wants to highlight a particular position, he can use an asterisk with a footnote or along with another notation, N.B., which tells the reader to take note of what he's reading.

Tips and warnings

  • The asterisk symbol is found above the number 8 key on your keyboard.

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