Diacritics 

Diacritics are marks added above or below a letter (or sometimes within or between letters). In the Roman alphabet, they are basically used to indicate a modification in the pronunciation of the letter in question.

Although some languages make use of a large number of such marks, in those often used within our contexts, the most common diacritics are the so-called grave (`) or acute (´) accents, the cedilla (¸), the umlaut/dierisis (¨), the tilde (˜) and the circumflex (ˆ).

Unlike other European languages, modern English does not have diacritics. Some borrowed words may be written in English with their original non-English diacritic, but this rarely affects pronunciation (for exceptional cases, see Ambiguity, below). Overall, borrowed words tend to lose their diacritics over time because of processes of simplification and assimilation, and the fact that diacritics are not easily typed on an English keyboard.

  • Ambiguity

    Use diacritics when their absence could result in ambiguity. For example, exposé, resumé and rosé, when unaccented, look like different words (in this case, expose, resume and rose, respectively). When there is no possible ambiguity, you do not need to use the original diacritic (for example, facade ).

  • Names

    With names in other languages, use all the diacritics correctly and consistently, or use none at all.

    Exemple correcte Please contact Dr González Martí, assistant rector for Communication, for further information.

    Exemple correcte The plenary talk was given by Professor Johan Lübeck, a specialist in medieval German manuscripts.

    Exemple correcte Please contact Dr Gonzalez Marti, assistant rector for Communication, for further information.

    Exemple correcte The plenary talk was given by Professor Johan Lubeck, a specialist in medieval German manuscripts.


  • Other words

    When an English text uses foreign words or phrases that are not names but that have a diacritic in the original language, you should either keep all such marks or else use none at all. Be consistent. If you decide to use them, remember that they should also be used on capital letters.

    Exemple correcte The Concept of Égalité in the Recognition of Non-EU Degrees in France: A Critical Analysis
Darrera actualització: 7-11-2017
Impressió del capítol | Impressió de la pàgina
Recommended citation:
«Diacritics» [en línia]. A: Criteris de la Universitat de Barcelona (CUB). Style Guide. Barcelona: Universitat de Barcelona. Serveis Lingüístics. <http://www.ub.edu/cub/criteri.php?id=2243> [consulta: 20 juliol 2019].