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The paragraph or paragraph (via late Latin paragraphus from ancient Greek παράγραφος [γραμμή] parágraphos [grammé] "what is written next to it") is used to classify literature, such as laws , contracts or textbooks . As a rule, it is divided into paragraphs, sentences, numbers and letters ( literae ) for better reference (especially with legal texts) - in Austria, numbers (Z) are used for numbers -; In legal commentaries, the comment on a paragraph is often also divided into marginal numbers (Rn).

International treaties , laws of public law as well as European legal acts , ordinances and guidelines are usually structured by articles instead of paragraphs . In Switzerland this is the case with all federal laws , in Germany with the Basic Law and the so-called article laws as well as Bavarian laws.

Paragraph mark

In the German-speaking area, “§” is used as a paragraph character. If you refer to more than one paragraph, two paragraph symbols are placed next to each other: "§§". The origin of the paragraph mark is controversial and is discussed in the article paragraph mark.


The new German spelling has, as with all compound words with -graph , as new spelling addition Clause introduced, sometimes in the 18th-19th Century; it is considered equal to the earlier and still correct spelling Paragraph . The Duden recommends spelling with f .

Reading examples

  • § 4 AO : Paragraph four of the tax code
  • §§ 14 f. EStG : Paragraph 14 and following of the Income Tax Act
  • Sections 33 et seq. BauNVO 69 : Sections 33 and following of the Building Use Ordinance of 1969.

In German federal laws , paragraphs, sentences and numbers, as far as they are after the paragraph, were always abbreviated (paragraph, p. Or no.), I.e.:

  • Section 323 Paragraph 2 No. 1 BGB
  • Section 433 (1) sentence 2 BGB

These designations have been written out since the beginning of 2009. Exceptions can only be found in a few systems.

In Austria - in federal and state laws - the paragraphs are divided into paragraphs, the paragraphs into numbers and / or letters, and possibly also lower-case Roman numbers (analogous to laws that are divided into articles); In Austria it is also unusual to put points after the abbreviated designations:

  • Section 79 (1) no.1 GTG
  • Section 16 (1) lit a StVO
  • Section 16 (1) lit a sublit ii FBG

A letter with a lower case letter can be added to paragraphs as well as paragraphs and is used to insert new regulations into the existing standard text without receiving the following, often long-term numbering internalized by the legal practitioners:

  • § 16a ROG follows § 16 ROG , then § 17 ROG follows : Paragraph 16- "a" of the Regional Planning Act
  • Section 1 (1a) UStG follows on from Section 1 (1) UStG , followed by Section 1 (2) UStG : Paragraph 1 (1- "a") of the VAT Act

A form of writing that is also common (because it is shorter), especially in German law - especially handwritten - is the use of Roman numerals for paragraphs and Arabic numerals for sentences:

  • § 346 II 1 No. 3 BGB : Paragraph 346, paragraph 2, sentence 1, number 3 of the Civil Code
  • § 19, 1 KrW- / AbfG : Paragraph 19, sentence 1 of the Recycling and Waste Act

Alternatively (often especially with legal norms of the European Union and international treaties) the paragraph is sometimes also put in brackets:

  • § 433 (1) 2 BGB : Paragraph 433, paragraph 1, sentence 2 of the civil code
  • Art 2 (4) UN Charter : Article 2, Paragraph 4 of the Charter of the United Nations

In Austria, a similarly abbreviated spelling is completely unusual in law.

Comments are cited according to the legal basis with a marginal note or paragraph "marginal":

  • Section 50 (3) BGB, marginal number 5 (Palandt, 73rd edition. Commentary on the BGB)

In Austria, however, with marginal number (margin number):

  • Bollenberger in KBB 4 § 864 ABGB margin no. 5 (2014)

The following spellings are rather unusual in German:

  • Section 25.2 StGB , Section 70 1 1 GTG


  • Manfred Harder : The paragraph. In: Klaus Slapnicar (Hrsg.): Tradition and further development in law. Festschrift for the 90th birthday of Ulrich von Lübenow . (= Law, Economy, Society. Law. Volume 33). Schäuble, Rheinfelden et al. 1991, ISBN 3-87718-933-4 , pp. 9-13.
  • Christian Ahcin, Claudia Carl: The paragraph - an obscure subject of law. To the history of a character. In: Legal journal . 1991, pp. 915-917.
  • Stephan Keiler, Christoph Bezemek : leg cit 3 - guidelines for legal citations. 3rd, updated and expanded edition. Vienna 2014, ISBN 978-3-7046-6258-3 .

Web links

Wiktionary: Paragraph  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: rubber paragraph  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Duden: The German orthography. 25th edition. Bibliographisches Institut (Dudenverlag), Mannheim 2009, ISBN 978-3-411-04015-5 .
  2. See Stephan Keiler, Christoph Bezemek : leg cit 3 - Guide for legal citations , 2014, margin no.3.