I am trying to indicate the direction (left or right) of an object relative to a fixed point, which is itself located relative to a standard center, using simple text.

This direction information is important, as it determines which of two otherwise identical locations is indicated. The same position may be presented graphically, but not necessarily at the same time as its written form.

Basically, I am trying to represent a horizontal point in the following form:

3.0 steps left of the right 45 yl

(yl being Yard Line, and the 50 yl being Center)


3.0 steps left of the ➢ 45
3.0 steps left of the 45 ➢

I think I have a good general format, but I'm concerned that it might not be easily recognizable in a quick glance, what with the "left of the right" going on there...

I have come up with a few options to remedy this situation:

  1. Just use "Left" and "Right"
  2. Some arrow character
  3. Subscripts

The first option would be simple enough, but I'd rather not use that if I can avoid it, for reasons listed above.

I have searched Unicode docs and those of various fonts in search of a character to use for this purpose. I am particularly fond of the 3D TOP-LIGHTED RIGHTWARDS ARROWHEAD (➢), but I have yet to find a viable leftwards equivalent. It's a simple matter to create and insert a rotated version of the character myself, but this leads to a host of other issues, not the least of which is that of performance. I'd rather not have to pass around a complex attributed string, and re-insert my rotated glyph image every time I pass move the string elsewhere. And where should I insert the arrow? To the right or left of the line number?

The third option is one I have seen used in a few places. Side 1 would be left of the 50, and side 2 is right, from the stands' perspective. This number would be subscripted after the line number.

Any advice on this point would be appreciated. How would I best convey this information without confusing my users?

  • I am curious what it is you're working on. Who types those strings? Who sees them? What do they indicate, and what kinds of different directions must they be able to indicate and why? Why is text the only option? I don't think anybody understands what the question (and the underlying need you have) is at this stage. Jan 11, 2016 at 23:44
  • Sorry, I should have elaborated. I am working on a drill book application for marching band, drum corps, etc. These strings would not be typed, at least not yet, but presented based upon information the user enters in another (and much more intuitive) view. They indicate the relative distance of a player from a certain line marker, which is itself a certain distance from the center of the playing field. Distance from the front is represented elsewhere. Jan 12, 2016 at 0:08
  • No, text isn't the only option, nor is it the default, but what research I've done suggests that some people work better with textual representations than visual. Jan 12, 2016 at 0:08
  • Have you thought about using compass directions?
    – Matt Smith
    Jan 12, 2016 at 0:29
  • The main issue with using compass directions is that not all fields face the same direction, which would introduce confusion for traveling groups, or even groups who just change fields every so often. I can easily change this at runtime, so it doesn't matter much. Another problem is familiarity. While I've heard of groups which use east/west, north/south formats to indicate direction, but I've never seen it in person... I could allow the user to specify this option, but I personally don't like needing to remember where I'm facing when I just need to go a few feet to the right. Jan 12, 2016 at 0:38

1 Answer 1


I am imagining that the OP means that the marching will be described as being at the 45YL but obviously wants to provide instructions for each individual without creating a very large set of images. The better solution would be to use sprites and programmatically combine them together to create a "visual map" which truly be infitely better than using text.

Assumes at the very least that three lines of ASCII text are allowed. Done from marchers perspective. Two examples formatted in an image as Stack Exchange formatting capabilities are limited especially for code blocks necessary(?) for ASCII art.Ascii Art Examples for User String Only Messages

Originally I thought they would work well both together on same page but I think they work better separately. Best shown by placing hand over one side of center line eg the right side | left side. There are a large number of subtlies in the formatting which I will point out if this is even close to what OP is looking for.

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