Back quote

Updated: 05/16/2020 by Computer Hope
Backtick or back quote character

Alternatively known as acute, backtick, left quote, or an open quote, the back quote or backquote is a punctuation mark (`). It's on the same U.S. computer keyboard key as the tilde.

Tip

Although not as common as the examples above, the back quote is also sometimes referred to as a back prime, birk, blugle, grave, grave accent, quasiquote, push, and unapostrophe.

Where is the back quote key on the keyboard?

Below is an overview of a computer keyboard with the back quote key highlighted in blue.

Tilde key

How to create the ` symbol

Creating the ` symbol on a U.S. keyboard

To create a back quote using a U.S. keyboard, press the `, which is located directly below the Esc key. This key is also used for typing the tilde ( ~ ) character if the Shift key is held while it is pressed.

Creating the ` symbol on a smartphone or tablet

To create a back quote on a smartphone or tablet locate the single quote in the numbers (123) or symbols (sym) section, and tap and hold the ' symbol. As you continue to hold down on the ' symbol, a menu containing the back quote appears. Drag your finger up to the back quote and let go to insert the symbol.

How is a back quote used on a computer?

Below are a few examples of how and when the back quote is used.

Note

The single quote should be used in your writing instead of using the back quote. In other words, use a single quote instead of a back quote when writing the apostrophe in words like "don't" and "I'm."

  1. When used as an accent, the grave accent indicates pitch, stress, or tone of a letter. How it's used varies by the language.
  2. In some programming languages, the backtick can be used for command substitution. For example, below is an example of Perl code that uses backticks to execute a system command and load the command output into an array.
@files = `dir /b c:\windows\temp`;

In the example above, the backtick substitutes the command output into the elements of the "@files" array. In this case, each element is the name of a file or directory in the c:\windows\temp directory listed by the dir command.

  1. In Unix and Linux shells, the backtick is used as an indication of what to evaluate (execute) first in a command. For example, in the following command, the "hope" variable is assigned the output of the date command. When this command is run, the date command is executed first, and then its output is assigned to "hope."
hope=`date`

After entering the above command, running "echo $hope" echoes the value of the "hope" variable, which is the date and time when the original command was run.

  1. When used in a comment, the back quote is sometimes used to emphasize code contained in the comment.
  2. The back quote key is also used to access the console in programs and games like Quake.

How do I get a back quote above a letter?

See our accent mark page for steps and links to creating accented letters in your programs.

What is the other symbol on the back quote key?

On U.S. keyboards, the back quote key is shared with the tilde key, which may be shown next to or above the back quote symbol. To create the tilde, hold down the Shift key and press the back quote key.

Keyboard terms, Push, Quote, Single quote, Typography terms