We all enjoy learning new tricks in legal writing, which is riddled with obscurities and sometimes even arcane absurdities. One in particular we’ll discuss here is “§,” the section symbol.
What Does the Section Symbol Mean?
The section symbol “§” is a typographical character often used to refer to a particular section of a statute and regulation. The section symbol “§” means simply “section” and the plural “§§” denotes “sections” when referring to two or more sections in a statute (e.g. “In 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981-1983 Congress established…”). It’s important for paralegals to know how to use it.
How to Insert the Section Symbol into Documents
Beginning legal writers may question how to insert the section symbol in legal documents. Several options are available when it comes to inserting the section symbol in a document. One method is to simply copy and paste the section from another document or a website. Legal writers can also use the insert special characters feature on Microsoft Word. (See the graphic here.)
On the Insert tab, in the Symbols group, click:
- “Symbol” and then select “More Symbols”
- Then, click the “Special characters” tab
- Then, click on the section symbol and click “Insert”
A last resort option is to simply write out “section” “sec.” or “s” in lieu of the section symbol, but most citation styles, including the Bluebook, require the section symbol. When using the section symbol in a statutory citation, insert a space both before and after the section symbol (§).