Forward Slash

What Is a Forward Slash?

A forward slash is a mark mainly used to indicate line breaks, fractions, ratios, paired terms, and dates. (Note that the use of a forward slash in fractions, ratios, paired terms, and dates is better suited to informal, rather than professional, writing.)

When discussing fewer than three lines of poetry in a paper, writers use a slash to show where one line ends and another begins. (Longer poetry excerpts are formatted in indented block text.)

To indicate line breaks in a poem, be sure to insert a space both before and after the slash. However, when using a forward slash in fractions, ratios, paired terms, or dates, do not insert any spaces before or after the slash mark.

Forward Slash Examples:

Poetry Forward Slash Examples

In “Chicago,” poet Carl Sandburg describes the city as “Hog Butcher for the World, / Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat” (1–2).
In his poem “Byzantium,” William Butler Yeats writes, “Before me floats an image, man or shade, / Shade more than man, more image than a shade” (9–10).

Fractions Forward Slash Examples

Mix together 2/3 cup of sugar with the cinnamon, butter, and flour.
Add 1/4 cup of bleach to one gallon of water to make a disinfectant.

Ratios Forward Slash Examples

To train for the marathon, we suggest running five miles/day.
The vet recommends bringing the cat in for treatments two times/year.

Paired Terms Forward Slash Examples

Call and/or email the dressmaker when you know the date of the wedding.
Try pressing the on/off switch on the printer to see if that fixes the problem.

Dates Forward Slash Examples

Please respond to our request for additional information by 2/15/16.
I’ll graduate from college on 12/22/15.

Check out this worksheet on Using the Forward Slash in Writing and The Forward Slash as Punctuation.