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.
w/ = with c/o = care of (used when posting a letter or parcel) a/c = air conditioning
w/ = with
c/o = care of (used when posting a letter or parcel)
a/c = air conditioning
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