Not to be confused with guillemot, a common name for several species of seabird; however, on certain computing systems the word is erroneously spelled "guillemot" (see § Guillemet vs. guillemot below).
« »

Guillemets (/ˈɡɪləmɛt/, or /ɡəˈm/; French: [ɡijmɛ]), also called angle quotes, Latin quotation marks, or French quotation marks, are polylines pointed like arrows (« or »), sometimes forming a complementary set of punctuation marks used as a form of quotation mark.

The symbol at either end—double « and » or single ‹ and ›—is a guillemet. They are used in a number of languages to indicate speech. They resemble the symbols for lesser than (<), greater than (>), as well as rewind and fast forward on various media players, such as VCRs, DVD players, and MP3 players.


The word is a diminutive of the French name Guillaume (the equivalent in English being William), after the French printer and punchcutter Guillaume Le Bé (1525–98).[1][2] Some languages derive their word for guillemets analogously: The Irish term is Liamóg, from Liam 'William' and a diminutive suffix.


Guillemets are used pointing outwards («like this») to indicate speech in these languages and regions:

Guillemets are used pointing inwards (»like this«) to indicate speech in these languages:

Guillemets are used pointing right (»like this») to indicate speech in these languages:


A guillemet is sometimes used to indicate direction, for example:

Guillemets in computing

Guillemets are often used on buttons that enable forward and backward navigation across a set of items (for example in VB, MS Access, email clients, article comment sections, etc). Often a guillemet signifies navigation to the first («) or last (») item in a list, while a corresponding single angle (not actually a guillemet) signifies navigation to the previous (<) or next (>) item.

Typing "«" and "»" on computers

In Windows: 
« Alt + 0171 Alt + 7598 Alt + 174 Alt + 686
» Alt + 0187 Alt + 7599 Alt + 175 Alt + 687

With a US International Keyboard and corresponding layout, Alt Gr+[ and Alt Gr+] can also be used. The characters are standard on French Canadian keyboards and some others.

Macintosh users can type "«" as ⌥ Opt+\ and "»" as ⌥ Opt+⇧ Shift+\. (This applies to all English-language keyboard layouts supplied with the operating system, e.g. "Australian", "British", "Canadian", "Irish", "Irish Extended", "U.S." and "U.S. Extended". Other language layouts may differ). In French-language keyboard layouts ⌥ Opt+7 and ⌥ Opt+⇧ Shift+7 can be used. On Norwegian keyboards, ⌥ Opt+⇧ Shift+v for "«", and ⌥ Opt+⇧ Shift+b for "»", can be used.

For users of Unix-like operating systems running the X Window System, creation of the guillemet depends on a number of factors including the keyboard layout that is in effect. For example, with US International Keyboard layout selected a user would type Alt Gr+[ for "«" and Alt Gr+] for "»". On some configurations they can be written by typing "«" as Alt Gr+z and "»" as Alt Gr+x. With the compose key, press Compose+<+< and Compose+>+>. Additionally with the ibus input method framework enabled, users may enter these characters into those applications that accept it by using Ctrl+⇧ Shift+U followed by their Unicode code points: either AB or BB, respectively.

In Microsoft Office applications, typing the US quotation mark (on the 3 key) will produce either a left Guillemet "«" or right Guillemet "»" based on the spacing.


Unicode Windows code pages Character entity reference Compose key
Name hex dec hex dec
SINGLE LEFT-POINTING ANGLE QUOTATION MARK U+2039 8249 8B 139 &lsaquo; Compose+.+<
SINGLE RIGHT-POINTING ANGLE QUOTATION MARK U+203A 8250 9B 155 &rsaquo; Compose+.+>

Despite their names, the characters are mirrored when used in right-to-left contexts.

Double guillemets are present also in several of ISO 8859 code pages (namely: -1, -7, -8, -9, -13, -15, -16) on the same code points.


Guillemets are used in Unified Modeling Language to indicate a stereotype of a standard element.


Gmail offers an orange guillemet as an optional star that can be applied to messages.[3] Gmail also uses single and double angles to denote messages sent directly to the recipient, although it calls them arrows rather than guillemets.[4]

Mail merge

Microsoft Word uses guillemets when creating mail merges. Microsoft use these punctuation marks to denote a mail merge "field", such as «Title», «AddressBlock» or «GreetingLine». Then on the final printout, the guillemet-marked tags are replaced by the corresponding data outlined for that field by the user.

Guillemet vs. guillemot

In Adobe Systems font software, its file format specifications, and in all fonts derived from these that contain the characters, the word is incorrectly spelled ‘guillemot’ (a malapropism: guillemot is actually a species of seabird) in the names of the two glyphs: guillemotleft and guillemotright. Adobe acknowledges the error.[5]

Likewise, X11 mistakenly calls them ‘XK_guillemotleft’ and ‘XK_guillemotright’ in the file keysymdef.h.

See also


  1. Character design standards - Punctuation 1
  3. "Advanced search".
  4. "How can I tell if a message was sent to just me or to a mailing list?".
  5. Adobe Systems Inc., PostScript Language Reference 3rd edition, Addison Wesley 1999. ISBN 0-201-37922-8. Character set endnote 3, page 783.
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