This article published by MiniTool Tech compares the two types of slashes: backslash vs forward slash. It elaborates the differences in grammar, file path, as well as on the keyboard. This post also mentions their different functions in different OS and programming languages.

Have you ever been confused by which kind of slash, backslash or forward slash, to use in a file path or web address like me? If so, did you get the correct one? Then, do you try to figure out when to use which slash? If not, you can take a few minutes to read this essay and find out the answer. After reading, you’ll know the differences between forward slash and backslash and when to use them. Thus, next time when you need to use slashes, you won’t be confused about which one to choose.

About Backslash

Backslash “\” is a typographical mark mainly used in computing. it is also called a hack, whack, downwhack, backwhack, backslant, reverse slant, reverse slash, reversed virgule, escape (from C/UNIX), slosh, and bash. Back slash is the mirror image of the common slash “/” (forward slash). It is encoded at U+005C \ REVERSE SOLIDUS (92decimal) in Unicode and ASCII.

About Forward Slash

Forward slash “/”, usually known as slash, is an oblique slanting line punctuation mark. Sometimes, in order to distinguish it from the backslash, we call it forward slash. Forwardslash is also called an oblique stroke, and it has several other historical or technical names like oblique and virgule. Forward slash is called a solidus in Unicode.

Forward slash was once used to mark periods “.” and commas “,”. Now, it is mainly used to represent exclusive (e.g. Y/N permits yes or no but not both) or inclusive or (e.g., Shanghai/Nanjing/Wuhan/Chongqing as stops on a tour of the Yangtze), division (e.g., 23 ÷ 43 can also be written as 23 ∕ 43) and fractions (e.g. 23⁄43 and %), and as a date separator (e.g. 11/9/2001).

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Backslash vs Forward Slash

After reading the general introduction respectively to backward slash and forward slash, you get to know what they are since you must have used them in your daily life. Also, you may know their differences. The easy way to remember them is that a backslash is a backward lean (\) while a forward slash leans forward (/).

Forward Slash vs Backslash File Path

In Microsoft Windows operating system (OS), backslashes are used in file paths to separate directories. For example, backslashes are used in non-relative path C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office16. Yet, for a relative path, Windows adopts forward slashes.

While in Mac, Linux, Android, Chrome, and Steam, all Unix-like operating systems, directories in file paths are separated by forward slashes. For instance, /System/Library/Screen Savers.

Backslash vs Forward Slash Grammar

Just as mentioned in the above content, the forward slash is usually called “slash” and is widely used. Sometimes, forward slashes function as division symbols and in place of the word “or”. Sometimes, a slash can show a line break in a poem, song, or play. Sometimes, slashes are used to form abbreviations or shortened forms of words or phrases, such as Mb/s (MB per second).

Tip: Whether you should use a space before and after slashes in a sentence or not? No, you shouldn’t use any space on both fronts. Space before slashes is strictly unforbidden. As for space after slashes, you can only use it when breaking up lines of a poem, song, or play, or when separating phrases or multi-word terms for ease of reading, file backup/ folder backup, for example.

Backslash vs Forward Slash Keyboard

As typographical marks in computing, both slashes have corresponding keys on the keyboard of a computer. the locations of backslash and forward slash on a keyboard are shown in the below picture.

Backslash vs Forward Slash Keyboard

Forward Slash vs. Hyphen vs. Dash vs. Vertical Stroke

The usage of forward slash and backslash are generally different. Yet, the use of forward slash, hyphen, dash, and vertical stroke are similar in many situations.

In early writings, slashes may be as a variant form of dashes, vertical strokes, etc. it is also used as a comma, scratch comma, period, and caesura mark. Once, forward slash was used to mark the continuation of a word onto the next line of a page, which was taken on by the hyphen later.

The Fraktur script used throughout Central Europe in the early modern period used a single slash as a scratch comma and a double slash “//” as a dash. The double slash developed into the double oblique hyphen “⸗” and the double hyphen “=” or “=” before being usually simplified into various single dashes.

An example of the similar usage today is the write of date, both 2020-12-02 and 12/02/2020 represent December 02, 2020.

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Backslash vs Forward Slash: What Will Happen If Misused?

For web browsers like Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, etc., if you type an address into them with backslashes, they will automatically correct it with forward slashes and load the right website for you. For instance, if you input “https:\\\news\backslash-vs-forward-slash.html” into those browsers, they will bring you to “” directly.

Tip: Tip: Yet, Apple Safari can’t do so. Maybe there are other web browsers that can’t correct backslash web addresses for you.

Windows Explorer will also automatically correct file paths with forward slashes for you. For instance, if you input “C:/Program Files (x86)/Microsoft Office” into Windows Explorer, it will direct you to “C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office” as usual.

Yet, the automatic correction doesn’t apply everywhere in Windows. If you type a forward slash file path into the Open dialog and press Enter, you will be prompted with an error message saying “this file name is not valid”.

All in all, whether you should write the right slash type depends on whether the program corrects your slashes or displays an error, or even just stay idle.

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