11.5 Additional Signs of Shape Including the Use of Circles and Arcs


As mentioned earlier, braille incorporates the use of the shape indicator dots one two four six to represent that the character or characters that follow the shape indicator represent an actual shape. A letter or letters, a numeral, or characters suggestive of the shape are placed in the braille cells immediately following the shape indicator.

Letter or letters suggest shape

Many shape symbols are displayed with the shape indicator followed by a letter or letters that suggests the shape. Combining the shape indicator with other letters allows for a variety of shapes to be displayed in braille. The following is a list of the common shapes formed in this manner. Some of these symbols represent irregular shapes, that is, shapes whose sides are not of the same length.

concave upward arc

concave downward arc



irregular hexagon


irregular pentagon





intersecting lines


inverted triangle

Numerals suggest number of sides







Regular polygons with additional numbers of sides would be formed similarly, with the exception of a regular, equilateral triangle, the symbol for which is

Spacing with signs of shape

  1. A shape symbol that identifies a letter or letters, or a numeral or numerals, must be separated from the identified character or characters, by a space.
  2. Shape signs representing signs of comparison must be spaced according to the rules for signs of comparison.
  3. Shape symbols representing signs of operation must be spaced according to the rules for signs of operation.
  4. Shape symbols representing signs of omission must be spaced according to the rules for signs of omission.
  5. When a braille indicator, such as a level indicator, fraction indicator, or alphabetic indicator is used with a sign of shape, the sign of shape must be unspaced from the indicator that applies to it. The effect of a level indicator used with a sign of shape that has identifying letters, or a sequence of letters, extends through the space following the shape, preserving the level on which the sign of shape appears. Any other space terminates the effect of the level indicator.

Punctuation with signs of shape

Signs of shape are mathematical symbols. They are to be punctuated according to the guidelines for applying marks of punctuation to mathematical symbols. In particular, when shapes are made plural or possessive with an apostrophe 's, the punctuation indicator is inserted, unspaced, between the shape sign and the apostrophe.

Example 1

rectangle ABCD

Example 2

A rectangle has five sides.

Example 3

x inverted triangle y (where the inverted triangle represents a missing operation)

Example 4

circle, triangle and square

Example 5

triangles DEF and XYZ

Example 6

triangles A and B

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