The middle dot, aka the Georgian comma, the Greek middle dot, the centred dot, the space dot or the interpunct is a dot vertically centred halfway up the line, thus: ·
An interpunct · is a small dot used for interword separation in ancient Latin script, being perhaps the first consistent visual representation of word boundaries in written language. The dot is vertically centered, e.g. "DONA·EIS·REQUIEM", and is therefore also called a middle dot or centered dot. In addition to the round dot form, inscriptions sometimes use a small equilateral triangle for the interpunct, pointing either up or down. Such triangles can be found on inscriptions on buildings in the twentieth century. Ancient Greek, by contrast, had not developed interpuncts; all the letters ran together. When a wave of enthusiasm for all things Greek swept ancient Rome, the use of interpuncts disappeared, presumably being inadequately fashionable. The use of spaces for word separation didn't appear until much later, some time between 600 and 800 AD.
So·the·sentence·with·interpuncts·gives waytothiswhichbecomes this, once the words had jostled for space, separating from each other at their boundaries, creating the space. Xray magazine has a slightly different spin on the interpunct's position in written language in Rome:
Around 200 BCE the Greek scholar and librarian, Aristophanes, introduced a system using dots placed at varying heights in strategic places to represent a short pause, a long pause, and a full stop. Aristophanes’ system was not widely adopted. By the first century BCE, it had fallen out of fashion. Around this time the Romans began to use a small dot, or midpoint, called an interpunct to mark a division between words. Soon after, however, a renewed interest in Greek language and scholarship swept through the Roman empire, and the lowly interpunct disappeared as well.
Interestingly, the privileged children of the Roman empire were taught to read and write Latin with grammar manuscripts employing word spaces so these young students could learn the language. Consequently, spaces between words were considered childish and illiterate.
The Greeks, however, had used the middle dot as an accent that corresponds to our comma (Dionysius: "while the middle is a sign taken up for a breath"), though it seems that the story was immediately complicated in Greek times (the middle dot not used that much) and in modern typographic history (the upper dot being rendered as a middle dot).
As we've already started to see, its use changes and expands (perhaps with its obsolescence as a word separator?) and it's seen in the sciences as a mark denoting the product of the symbols either side of it (in algebra, its use as a multiplication sign has also withered), or to separate the major parts of a complex formula (ie as a natural pause), and in language as a hinge or diacritical mark used in pronunciation (Catalan, dictionary pronunciation guides).
Bill Long cites Oxford ("the insertion of points between words, clauses, or sentences") and gives interpunct's first complete usage as interpunction, 1617, though the truncated form is clearly sweeter.
Today it also operates as an elegant separator between words, where there's more distance between them. Typically where a number of discrete words/ideas/things are presented as having a certain equivalence so that you may choose from them. Correspondingly, you see it used as if it were a horizontal bullet point, a space either side of it - for instance in navigation. You can imagine someone counting out their different options, placing a finger next to each one, on that dot.
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How to render it in Word on Windows? Type 0387 and then hit alt-x. How to render it in html?
So there we are. A dot that would be a full stop or period, if it weren't floating. A small mark whose history is one of shifting meaning, effacement and reinscription. Could write so much about that - I do rather like it. Here's a nice big one, on its own, so you can't tell whether it's really a middle dot or not: