My digital version of《现代汉语规范词典》seems to be using halfwidth ideographic commas, (U+FF64).

Here's their definition for :

名 用来擦、包或盖东西的小块织物

It looks like a poor attempt at a fullwidth ideographic comma (顿号) and seems to be missing any sort of space what-so-ever after the punctuation mark.

Is there ever usage of the halfwidth ideographic comma in Chinese punctuation? (Add your own spaces?)

  • 1
    A wild guess is that they made an exception in the case of a several hundred pages long dictionary where they decided it would be worth the cumulative space savings, and the digital edition just kept this.
    – gnucchi
    Commented Jan 5, 2020 at 7:16

4 Answers 4


Mainstream pinyin input methods mainly use full-width '、' character. And under most formal situations, full-width '、' is required to keep consistency with other full-width punctuation markers (for example: '。', ',', '!').


I’d say no. All regular Chinese punctuation marks are full-width. There shouldn't be any spaces before or after punctuation marks when you are typesetting Chinese.

When people input Chinese, all Chinese characters and punctuation marks are typed under the full-width mode, while numbers, letters, and other symbols should be typed under the half-width mode. “、” (顿号) is no exception.


The concept of fullwidth and halfwidth is actually a historical problem.

In the world of English typesetting, justification is often used in order to align the right-hand side of every line in a paragraph. This is done by adjusting the width of the spaces between words. The same thing is also done in Chinese typesetting. However, since there is no space between Chinese characters, the only thing we can play with is the space around the punctuation marks.

You may wonder why we have to justify the Chinese text—every Chinese character and punctuation mark shares the same width, so Chinese text should be naturally justified without any manual intervention! The problem is that, some punctuation marks should not appear at the beginning of a line (e.g. 逗号 and 句号 ), while others should not appear at the end of a line (e.g. 左括号 and 前引号 ). For example, if the line width is equal to 30 characters, and the 31st character happens to be a 逗号, then it has to be moved to the end of the previous line, which in turn requires the previous contents of that line be squeezed. The common practice is to reduce the spaces around the punctuation marks (if any), so that one punctuation mark is narrower than one Chinese character.

Any modern word processor or typesetting software will do this automatically for you, so you don't have to care about the details of the algorithm. However, this feature is not well supported in browsers, so you can hardly see any properly justified Chinese webpages.

Then, how was this achieved in the movable type era, before word processors were invented? Cut off (slightly less than) half of a type just for a single line? Economically impossible. The economically feasible solution is to prepare some "halfwidth" (in its original sense: half the width of a Chinese character) punctuation marks in advance. When punctuation "squeezing" was required, "the halfwidth punctuation plus some spaces" were used instead.

According to the original definition, halfwidth punctuation marks are exactly half the width of a Chinese character, while fullwidth punctuation marks are exactly full width of a Chinese character. In most modern fonts, the width of ASCII punctuation marks are less than half the width of a Chinese character, so it's technically incorrect to call them "halfwidth". However, as 顿号 is not used in Western text at all, it is very likely to be exactly "halfwidth" in a font. Other real "halfwidth" punctuation marks share the same codepoints with their ASCII counterparts in Unicode, so depending on the font selection, you cannot rely on it that they're really halfwidth.

In summary, the modern practice is: use fullwidth punctuation marks all the time, and leave the chores of justification to the word processor or typesetting engine. So, HALFWIDTH IDEOGRAPHIC COMMA (U+FF64) is generally not used directly, but it stays there in case you really need it (somewhat similar to things like SIX-PER-EM SPACE (U+2006); will anyone justify the text by manually replacing all normal spaces with six-per-em spaces in a line?).

Further reading:

PS: Please note that Mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan have different conventions about punctuation. The rules described above is based on the convention in Mainland China.


Here is the general rules for punctuation in China - Just FYI

4.5.2 形式

4.5.3 基本用法 用于并列词语之间。
示例2:造型科学、技艺精湛、气韵生动,是盛唐石雕的特色。 用于需要停顿的重复词语之间。
示例:他几次三番、几次三番地辩解着。 用于某些序次语(不带括号的汉字数字或"天干地支"类序次语)之后。
示例2:风格的具体内容主要有以下四点:甲、题材;乙、用字;丙、表达;丁、色彩。 相邻或相近两数字连用表示概数通常不用顿号。若相邻那两数字连用为缩略形式,宜用顿号。
示例3:农业是国民经济的基础,也是二、三产业的基础。 标有引号的并列成分之间、标有书名号的并列成分之间通常不用顿号。若有其他成分插在并列的引号之间或并列的书名号之间(如引语或书名号之后还有括注),宜用顿号。

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