There are two types of slashes: a backslash (\) and a forward slash (/). The backslash is used only for computer coding. The forward slash, often simply referred to as a slash, is a punctuation mark used in English. The only time it is appropriate to use a comma after a slash is when demonstrating breaks between lines of poetry, songs, or plays.
What Does / Mean Between Words?
An explanation of what a forward slash means in a text depends on the context. Slashes can mean many different things, depending on how they are used.
To Separate Lines in Prose
A slash can show a line break in a poem, song, or play, usually if several short lines are being written together on one long line. Consider the two examples below:
Note that there is a space after each slash.
To Indicate Or
Often, when a slash is used in a formal or informal text, it is meant to indicate the word or. The examples below illustrate this meaning of the forward slash:
To Form Abbreviations
Slashes can also be used to form some abbreviations or shortened forms of words or phrases, although these shouldn’t be used in formal writing.
Notice that in these cases, no space is necessary after the slash.
To Indicate Connecting and Conflicting Relationships
Slashes can also be used to note that there is a connection or conflict between two words or phrases in a sentence. Some examples include:
To Denote Dates and Fractions
One of the most commonly recognized usages of the forward slash is to indicate dates and fractions:
Space Before and After Slash
Many people wonder whether to use a space before and after slashes. It depends. When a slash signifies alternatives between only two words, don’t use spaces before or after.
When using slashes to signify alternatives between phrases or multi-word terms or compounds, a space before and after the slash makes text easier to read. Another time it’s acceptable to use a space after a slash is when breaking up lines of a poem, song, or play. In this case, a line break should be made after the slash.
Example: Add chili flakes and/or black pepper to the recipe.
Example: World War I / First World War
Mary had a little lamb /
Its fleece was white as snow