What to call the # key

Subject: What to call the # key
From: Lisa Hodge <lhodge -at- PRIORITYCALL -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 23 Nov 1998 15:58:29 -0500

At PCM, we follow the rule in "The Microsoft Manual of Style for Technical Publications" and call # the "number sign" when referring to a keyboard or the "pound key" (or just "pound") when referring specifically to telephones or the telephone keypad (except for documents heading to the UK, where we use "hash").  I bet our engineers have never even heard the word "octothorpe"....but we writers have!!  :)  Just for fun, I checked "Newton's Telecom Dictionary", which is considered the bible of terminology in our business, and they list several possibilities:  pound key, number sign, crosshatch sign, tic-tack-toe sign, the enter key (???), the octothorpe (also spelled octathorp), and the hash.
Lisa M. Hodge
Manager, Technical Publications
Priority Call Management
lhodge -at- prioritycall -dot- com
rowlands -at- CLICKPLANET -dot- COM,Internet writes:
>All I would add is that there are
>times when using "octothorpe" would be appropriate - for example, when
>producing documentation for telecom engineers.
>The point is that documentation should have as its goal the ability to
>reach the audiance for which its being produced.
>Gareth Rowlands
>Technical Writer
>Click Interactive

A fairly well-regarded book on serial communications lists the following
names for the character '#':

Sharp sign (the real musical sharp sign is "more slanty.")
Number sign (current practice is to use "Nr." or "No.")
Pound sign ("This usage greatly confounds the British, ...")
Ticktacktoe sign

The book goes on:

". . .Other names than have been proposed include Hatch, Chiffer, Corral,
Quadrux, Dunphy, Sidfrigand, Jang and Bradgard--all submitted in a contest
recently held by the Washington newletter "Privacy." The winning names in
that contest were Octothorpe, judged "most authentic," and Gridlet, judged
"most intriguing." "

Campbell, Joe, "C Programmer's Guide to Serial Communications," Howard W.
Sams, 1988, Pg. 14

Doug Nickerson
Bourne, MA.
doug_nickerson -at- onsetcomp -dot- com

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