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The Euro

Copyright © 1999, 2001, 2003, 2005-2007 by David E. Ross

My PC supports the symbol for the euro currency. Below, in the blue boxes, are the following representations of the euro symbol (from left to right):

If the symbol in the left-most box below reappears in any of the other boxes, your computer also supports the euro symbol in some manner. Because different code numbering schemes are used in Microsoft's convention and the Unicode standard, it is possible that either the second or third boxes will not contain the symbol. (For details about entity references, character references, and escaped characters, see my Escaped Characters.)

euro symbol

Microsoft has several Web pages about the euro, including pages with download links for free software modifications and free fonts containing the symbol. Downloading and installing those fonts for Windows 95 were quite easy. Windows 98 came with euro-compatible fonts already installed as did the later versions of Windows.

Hewlett-Packard also had Web pages about the euro. Having an HP LaserJet 5L printer, I downloaded and installed the freeware euro upgrade package for that printer. The package from December 1998 contained an error: The symbol would not print for variable-width fonts; text adjacent to the symbol would be garbled. I notified Hewlett-Packard about this problem but never received any reply. In mid-1999, however, I noticed that Hewlett-Packard had an updated euro package. I downloaded it, and everything now works. I'm still annoyed that Hewlett-Packard never notified me about this upgrade or responded to my complaint. In the meantime, Hewlett-Packard completely reorganized its Web site. I can no longer find the euro package or fonts. Hewlett-Packard no longer supports the LaserJet 5L printer. However, the built-in print driver inventory in Windows XP includes a LaserJet 5L driver that supports the euro.

Numerous other sources of euro-compatible fonts exist. However, various fantasy and script fonts might not contain the euro symbol. This is especially true of older fonts that are still in current distribution.


To commemorate the final conversion of European national currencies to the euro on 1 January 2002, the symbol is displayed here in 16 different fonts. This is a graphics file (.gif) created from a Word 97 table. In each box, the euro symbol is sized to 20 points; the name of the font is sized to 10 points. (Note the significant difference in size for the Coronet font. I have observed a similar "shrinkage" for other script fonts.)

four by four array of euro symbol in different fonts

Some purists decry the use of a serif when the symbol is within a serif font (especially noticeable above with Courier New). The symbol is not the letter C with an equal sign over it. Yes, it is C-shaped; but the formal definition does not provide for a serif. And the two lines across the symbol are supposed to be angled at their ends, as in the left-hand yellow graphic with the blue background near the top of this page.


Software Usage

The following information is valid for Windows XP SP3. In all cases, I was able to type the euro using the Alt-0128 escaped character, but only while operating with a font that supports the symbol.

Microsoft:

I have successfully experimented with the euro symbol in Word 97, Excel 97, Wordpad, and Notepad.

In Word, I created a document with eight repeated copies of the line This is a test of the € symbol. (For those of you who do not yet support the euro symbol, the symbol appears between the words the and symbol.) Each line is in a different font, including both variable-width and fixed width fonts. Selecting Insert > Symbol from the menu bar, I found the euro in several sets of symbols. Using the Symbol window, I established Alt-e as a shortcut for typing the symbol. I am able to display the page with the symbol and print it. Unlike with some escaped characters, Word saves the euro without alteration. (On the other hand, the copyright symbol © becomes (c) when saved in a text file by Word.)

In Excel, I used Format > Cells on the menu bar. On the Number tab of the Format Cells window, I selected the Custom category. I experimented with various numeric patterns, placing the symbol either to the left or right of the digits.

While Notepad with Windows 98 used a special font that is no longer being maintained and did not support the euro, Notepad with Windows XP uses a font that does support the Euro.

Other than Wordpad, with which I composed this Web page, I did not try other Microsoft software with the euro symbol. Unlike with some escaped characters, Wordpad copies the euro without alteration.

SeaMonkey:

SeaMonkey 2.0.11 (my Web browser) is compliant with the HTML 4.01 specification and thus supports the entity reference for the euro. It also handles the WINDOWS-1252 convention and the Unicode 2.1 standard for the character references. Finally, this browser also supports the escape sequence (when WINDOWS-1252 character encoding is specified in the HTML). For all of these, see the beginning of this page, where SeaMonkey shows me the correct symbol in all five boxes.

SeaMonkey derives from the Mozilla Suite, which is also the antecedent for the Firefox browser and the Thunderbird mail and news application. Thus, I believe those Mozilla products also support the euro symbol.

Eudora:

I have been able to send and receive E-mail messages containing the euro symbol inserted as an escaped character. I am using a very old version of Eudora Lite (3.0.6 from 1997); I strongly suspect later versions of Eudora also support the symbol.


While many newspaper articles in the United States have been written about the euro, few show the symbol (except in photographs). Rarely — if ever — do you see the symbol in a line of text. Is it possible that my humble home PC is more advanced than newspaper typography? Of course, I rarely see currency symbols other than the dollar-sign ($), either in printed newspapers or in on-line news services. Almost always, news articles about other currencies spell out pound and yen rather than use £ and ¥.

20 January 1999
Latest update Saturday, 23-Aug-2014 14:58:47 PDT


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