Special Characters and Symbols

On this page, you’ll learn:

  • How to add special characters (<, >, &) with AsciiDoc.

  • How to add symbols, such as © and ⇒, with AsciiDoc.

  • How to use HTML and XML entities with AsciiDoc.

Special character and symbol replacement is built into Asciidoctor.

During conversion, the characters in the table below are replaced with the appropriate character or Unicode entity. Replacement of special characters and symbols occurs in all inline and block elements except for comments and certain passthroughs. The three special characters, <, >, and &, are always replaced first.

HTML and XML character entities as well as decimal and hexadecimal Unicode code point references are also recognized and replaced.

For example, to produce the § symbol you can use &sect;, &#x00A7;, or &#167;. When the document is processed, the replacements substitution will replace the section symbol reference, regardless of whether it is a character entity reference or a numeric character reference, with &#167;. In turn, &#167; will display as §.

Name Syntax Replacement Rendered Notes





Apostrophe, curved




The vertical form apostrophe is replaced with the curved form apostrophe.









Em dash




Only replaced if between two word characters, between a word character and a line boundary, or flanked by spaces.

When flanked by space characters (e.g., a -- b), the normal spaces are replaced by thin spaces (&#8201;).

Greater than




Left double arrow



Left single arrow



Less than








Right double arrow



Right single arrow






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