So my teacher said that if we solved this question we would get extra credit (please tell me if I'm being too vague and I will clarify) When you change from the input to the regular text mode in Mathematica, the asterisk (*) goes up, and sometimes it doesn't. Why does the asterisk go up? Thank you so much!

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    $\begingroup$ The second iteration of this question belongs in math.stackexchange.com $\endgroup$
    – QuantumDot
    Mar 6, 2016 at 22:22
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    $\begingroup$ @QuantumDot I am so sorry-first time using this site, and I thought I was writing a new question not deleting my old one...can you still please answer my first question? Why does the asterisk go up when you switch from input to another mode? Thank you very much. $\endgroup$ Mar 6, 2016 at 22:28
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    $\begingroup$ @march I'm not cheating-I'm allowed to use the internet and Mathematica resources, but I'm not allowed to ask other students. This is a "fun/trivia" extra credit assignment. $\endgroup$ Mar 6, 2016 at 22:38
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    $\begingroup$ @desperatestudent. Then I rescind the "especially since it is worth extra credit" and "young learners" parts, but it is still true that this site is not for getting answers to homework questions. See if you can do some exploration about the situation yourself, then include what you tried and were able to come up with in your post, and then perhaps we can help. $\endgroup$
    – march
    Mar 6, 2016 at 22:40
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    $\begingroup$ You might learn more if you figured it out.... :) $\endgroup$
    – Michael E2
    Mar 7, 2016 at 1:32

1 Answer 1


The theory you propose in your comment to the question puts you on the right path. But there is a little more to it than that.

In an input mode (and there is more than one) when you type in an asterisk it is interpreted as Times and is rendered by a special glyph, unicode 22C6 (unicode name: STAR OPERATOR)

In a text mode (again, there are more than one). it is not interpreted and is rendered by unicode 002A (unicode name: ASTERISK), which in most fonts is rendered as a raised asterisk because its traditional use is to indicate a footnote.

It is quite easy to get both kinds of stars in a text mode cell by inserting ASTERISK from the keyboard and STAR OPERATOR from the Special Characters palette.


The above cell, when opened by Cmnd+Shift+E (OS X) orCtrl+Shift+E (Other systems) looks like


which clearly shows the difference between the two characters. And, yes, you can type in "\[Star]" from the keyboard to get STAR OPERATOR.


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