IT aspects of the euro currency sign

19 October 1998 - Version 10.

Table of Content

(and check list)
1. Introduction  
2. Euro  
3. Euro Currency Conformant Preliminary proposal
4. Seven and eight bits Preliminary proposal
5. Unicode Done
6. Glyph registration Done
7. OCR-B Good progress
8. HTML Done
9. Currency code Done
10. TV teletext Done
11. Sorting Done
12. Keyboards Part done
13. Telephone keypads Exact situation unknown
14. Bar codes Exact situation unknown
15. Braille Unknown
16. Macintosh Done
17. Windows Done
18. Localization Unknown
19. Face examples  
20. Publicity  
21. Acknowledgment  
22. References  
23. Disclaimer  
24. Author  

1. Introduction

This document discusses the euro currency sign and IT (information technology). The document will change as the situation changes. Verify that you have the latest version [IT-EURO].

Some of the information in this document are of the following types:

Completed items
For example, the entity € is already included in HTML 4.0. A short description and references are included.

By the author of this document or other parties. They should not be implemented at the present time as they could be dropped or changed.

This is a very dynamic field and the information will often change. It is recommended to check the primary sources; e.g., the European Commission.

2. Euro

The euro is the European Union currency that should be introduced from the 1 January 1999. For details, including the euro glyph, consult the official euro pages [EURO] at the Europa server.

Reference: European Commission [EC].

3. Euro Currency Conformant

Author's proposition.

An Euro Currency Conformant label is proposed. Products that follow certain criteria could be allowed to display the label. This label could be used as a requirement in call for tenders. The label must be controlled by of the European Institutions/Bodies such as the European Commission [EC] or the European Central Bank [ECB].

Reference: the author.

4. Seven and eight bits

Author's proposition.

4.1 A soft approach

Probably, the easiest solution (i.e., problem avoidance) could be not to place the EURO SIGN in seven (and/or eight) bits and create the convention:

when the EURO SIGN is missing use the LATIN CAPITAL LETTER E (0x45).

For example, E123. If this is unceptable, one has to go into a technical solution.

4.2 A hard approach

Today, most computer systems use 7 and 8 bits character sets. For the euro, one has to re-adapt present computer systems and facilitate the introduction of new computer systems in the most economical way.

Two new character sets are proposed:

The same as ASCII (ISO 646), but replacing the position CIRCUMFLEX ACCENT (position 5E) by the EURO SIGN (U+20AC). Another name for this character set could be ESCII.

The same as Latin1 (ISO 8859-1), but replacing the position CIRCUMFLEX ACCENT (position 5E) by the EURO SIGN (U+20AC).


Table Position number Glyph Name
euro-ASCII and euro-Latin1 5E EuroGlyph EURO SIGN


Forbidding the use in 7 and 8 bits will not work as there is a real need for a position. There are two options: doing nothing or recommending a position. If no position is recommended, one will be used; probably different people will pick up different positions. It is better to discuss the situation and recommend a position that is the less bad; admittedly, there are no good position in 7 and 8 bits.

One must always make clear that it is strongly recommended to avoid the use of 7 or 8 bits for the euro. Using 7 or 8 bits for the euro must be considered a last resort. At least the following alternative must be considered first:

In ISO-8859-15 (Latin-0), the position for the EURO SIGN is at A4 [ISO-8859-15]. This does not solve the 7 bits problem as the position is above 7F (it is in the upper table). It is a bad position as this corresponds to the ISO-8859-1 (Latin-1) CURRENCY SIGN (¤). Positions choosen for the euro must not have any currency sign in other coding schemes, even as little used as the CURRENCY SIGN. Also, Microsoft has choosen position 0x80 (see Windows below).

Reference: the author.

5. Unicode

The euro is in Unicode 2.1.

Unicode position Glyph Name
U+20AC EuroGlyph EURO SIGN

For details, see the relevant section in the Unicode Technical Report #8 [UTR8].

Warning : The following position in Unicode Version 2.0 is not the euro even if the word euro is part of the description.

This is NOT the euro
Unicode position Glyph Name
U+20A0 CE (both characters are interlaced with the E lower) EURO-CURRENCY SIGN

Reference: Unicode Consortium [UNICODE].

6. Glyph registration

The glyph has been registered with the identity 8059 for ISO-10036 [ISO-10036], Information technology -- Font information interchange -- Procedures for the registration of font-related identifiers

Reference: Association for Font Information Interchange [AFII].

7. OCR-B

Good progress. See the DRAFT Report on the Euro Glyph in OCR-B [OCRB]. The objective is to incorporate the euro glyph into Alphanumeric character sets for optical recognition -- Part2: Character set OCR-B -- Shapes and dimensions of the printed image [ISO-1073-2].

Reference: [TC304].


HTML 4.0 [HTML40] includes the new entity:


To make the intention clearer, it is recommended that this entity be used in preference to the:

The Euro Currency Conformant status of the browsers is:
(this is probably obsolete; check yourself with the table below and inform the author of changes)

To check the conformance of your browser see how the following table is displayed:

String in the HTML page The euro currency sign glyph
should appear on this column
(decimal equivalent of x20AC)

Reference: World Wide Web Consortium [W3C].

9. Currency code

The euro has been registered in Codes for the representation of currencies and funds [ISO-4217].

The alpha code is EUR and the numeric code is 978.

Reference: British Standard Institution [BSI].

10. TV teletext

The EURO SIGN will not work in old system and it should work in new systems (level 2.5). Hence, some soft approach (see above) will be needed for old systems.

The EURO SIGN is in the G2 character set table at position 5/6 in ETS 300 706: Enhanced Teletext specifications [ETS 300 706]. Additional information at UK Broadcasting Webring [MACGREGOR] and in the posting by Payea [PAYEA].

Reference: European Telecommunications Standards Institute [ETSI].

11. Sorting

The euro is the in projected sorting standard ISO-12991.


12. Keyboards

There is a proposition [EC-KB] to place the euro at AltGr+e (Ctrl+AltGr+e has the same effect). If the above 7 and 8 bits proposition was implemented, the keyboard problem would be solved.


13. Telephone keypads

Who is working on this ?

14. Bar codes

There is some work on this area.

Reference: Automatic Identification and Data Capture Techniques Subcommittee [ISO-SC-31].

15. Braille

Who is working on this ?


16. Macintosh

It can be done with Unicode or GX. The euro glyph is available from Maccampus [MACCAMPUS]

Reference: Apple Computers [APPLE].

17. Windows

Microsoft Windows 95 and NT supports the euro through Unicode (see above) and codepages. It can be typed (input methods) from a table or directly from the keyboard. This requires the installation of fonts with the euro (so it can be displayed) and a new keyboard driver (so it can be typed). These items can be downloaded from Microsoft [MS]. Notes on the Euro Symbol [GRAY] comments of applications.

Microsoft has choosen the position 0x80 for several codepages and in particular for cp1252 [CP1252]. cp1252 is similar to Latin-1; the difference is that the positions 0x80 to 0x9F are reserved [WENDT]. This should have an effect on the popularization of ISO-8859-15 [ISO-8859-15].

In addition to Windows, one needs solutions for other systems. In particular, 7 and 8 bits systems.

Reference: Microsoft [MS].

18. Localization

{ This section will be expanded}.

It would help to have a default (or multicultural) agreement. Though, this could be different for each cultural entity.

Also, the word euro has as to be considered.

Some posibilities

€ 123
euro 123

19. Face examples

(if your system supports the euro)

Time New Roman Courier New Arial Comic Sans MS
€123.- €123.- €123.- €123.-

For more examples look at Notes on the Euro Symbol [GRAY].

20. Publicity

There must be publicity directed to the:

IT vendors
Mainly on the approved euro glyph, the positions in 7 bits, 8 bits, Unicode and the implementation of the € entity. Otherwise the computer equipment needed would not be available with the correct glyph; for example, if a programmer in San Jose were requested to introduce the euro currency sign, he would probably consult the Unicode book and use the wrong position (U+20A0) and glyph (CE).

End user
Mainly on which alternative to use.

Reference: the author.

21. Acknowledgment

This document makes heavy use from the documents cited in the reference list. In particular, the TC304 reports.

The following people also contributed with comments:

22. References

AFII Association for Font Information Interchange.
APPLE Apple Computers
BSI British Standard Institution.
CP1252 cp1252 to Unicode table
ISPO IT impact of the Euro and Web sites maintained by Information Society Project Office (ISPO) of the European Commission.

EC European Commission.
ECB European Central Bank.
EC-KB Recommendation for the placement of the euro sign on computer keyboards and similar information processing equipment.
ETS 300 706 ETS 300 706: Enhanced Teletext specifications
ETSI European Telecommunications Standards Institute
EURO Euro pages at the Europa server of the European Commission.
GRAY Notes on the Euro Symbol
HTML40 HTML 4.0 Specifications, section 24.4.1.
HUMBERT The current state of the Euro sign implementation and standardisation
IBM IBM pages on the euro.
INDI The Euro and Standardization
IT-EURO IT aspects of the euro currency sign (this document)
ISO-10036 Information technology -- Font information interchange -- Procedures for the registration of font-related identifiers (a better URL ?)
ISO-1073-2 Alphanumeric character sets for optical recognition -- Part2: Character set OCR-B -- Shapes and dimensions of the printed image (a better URL ?)
ISO-4217 Codes for the representation of currencies and funds (a better URL ?)
ISO-8859-15 ISO/IEC 8859-15:1998 to Unicode
ISO-SC-31 Automatic Identification and Data Capture Techniques
MACCAMPUS Free EuroLogo font
MACGREGOR Teletext transmission methods
MS Microsoft page on The Euro Currency Symbol
TC304 CEN/TC 304
TC304-IR1 Interim Report #1 on the Euro IT Standardization
OCRB DRAFT Report on the Euro Glyph in OCR-B
PAYEA Posting on teletext
UNICODE Unicode Consortium
UTR8 Unicode Technical Report #8.
unicode/reports/tr8.html#2.0 Euro Sign
W3C World Wide Web Consortium
WENDT Message

23. Disclaimer

The information is provided without guarantee. It is strongly recommended always to verify the primary sources. This is a field that is moving very fast and the information ages accordingly; in particular, regarding the support of the euro by products. This document represents only the views of the author.

24. Author

M.T. Carrasco Benitez

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