I'm trying to write a post in Google plus that has a non-strengthened word with actual *asterisks* around it?

Using asterisks in a G+ triggers strenghtening of the word, and trying to escape them with \ just shows the \*backslashes\* with the asterisks.

Using **two** asterisks around the word does display only one, but also *strengthens* the word.

How do I escape the asterisk characters in a G+ post?

  • See this question.
    – Alex
    Apr 12, 2012 at 11:42
  • 5
    Google+ doesn't translate HTML character codes; I don't think that question is applicable @Alex. Apr 12, 2012 at 14:56

3 Answers 3


It's a really ugly hack, but you can use a zero width space to stop the asterisks from being interpreted.

On OS X you can use the bash builtin echo to generate the unicode character. It's not documented in the man page but BSD echo on OS X supports -e to enable interpretation of backslash escapes just like it's GNU counterpart. Copy and pasting the string from the Terminal seems to be problematic but you can pipe the output to pbcopy to send it directly to the pasteboard.

If you wanted to write *foobar* then you could get your patched string like this:

echo -en "\xe2\x80\x8b*foobar*" | pbcopy

You can use the same workaround to frame your text with the underline character _. Maybe someone feels like writing a greasemonkey script to automate this rather clunky process.

  • 2
    Doesn't seem to work... I tried echo -e "*\xe2\x80\x8bfoobar\xe2\x80\x8b*" | xsel -i --clipboard and then pasting the clipboard content into a G+ post. The word still gets emphasized. Maybe G+ filters the zero width space from the the input. Aug 3, 2012 at 13:52
  • 3
    Sadly, G+ seems to ignore the zero width space now, so the hack doesn't work anymore. If it's just about expressing common emotions you might wanna check this out: gist.github.com/157796 Oct 6, 2012 at 19:55
  • 1
    Google seems to have changed its implementation, but I have found another unicode character which breaks the interpretation of the asterisks (see updated posting). Oct 22, 2012 at 19:40
  • 1
    Although this is very hacky it did indeed get the job done, thank you.
    – davidbates
    May 1, 2013 at 5:57
  • 1
    I've updated the workaround. Let's see how long this one works ;) Apr 2, 2015 at 19:45

Three in a row *** will display one. It will be bold, but that seems close enough.

  • 2
    Does not work for me. ***text*** still appears as **text** with "text" in bold. Jun 15, 2015 at 21:15

I only found out so far, that when there is a space between at least one asterisk and the word, it is written normally.

*asterisk *or * asterisk* would not be bold, but I'm not sure if this solves your problem.

  • 1
    Well, it's one hackaround, like using ⁎alternate⁎ UTF asterisk character is, but no, it doesn't exactly answer the question since it doesn't get me the result I want. Apr 12, 2012 at 17:39
  • This is the solution that I've been using on those rare cases when I want the asterisks to appear.
    – ale
    Apr 12, 2012 at 19:19

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