From: Philippe Verdy (email@example.com)
Date: Sun Jul 06 2003 - 19:29:24 EDT
On Sunday, July 06, 2003 11:21 PM, Stefan Persson <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> Tex Texin wrote:
> > (I am trying to correct the table at
> > http://www.XenCraft.com/resources/multi-currency.html#ja-count )
> On that page I read this:
> German 12.345,67 Group separator is full-stop
> French 12 345,67 Group separator is space
> Either of the systems (. or space) can be used in French, but "."
> seems to be more common than " ".
You're wrong for French, where "." could be falsely interpreted as a comma by a lot of people.
In French the most common thousand separator is a space (more precisely a thin unbreakable space), that is encoded with a U+00A0 (NBSP) character in ISO-8859-1 which does not have the thin unbreakable space.
In strict typography, NBSP is not appropriate as it is too large, but it is very common in encoded texts, and just corrected before publishing. The normal width used for this case is normally a half-space, and it should be U+2009. The standard space for word separation is normally a half-cadradin, U+2009 corresponds normally to a quarter of cadratin.
We call it "une fine insécable" or simply "une fine", and it's the same character used before any ending or closing punctuation, or after an opening punctuation, composed with more than one glyph: the colon (fine + :), semi-colon (fine + ;), exclamation and interrogation point (fine + !?), the French guillemots (double angle brackets, written « + fine, and fine + »).
This "fine" character is the appropriate one for thousands separators in numbers for French. If U+2009 is not available, one can often use instead the explicit U+2002 quarter of cadratin, or U+2004 third of cadratin (however these two are breakable and not convenient for numbers), and use NBSP if available instead of U+2002 (half of cadratin), or just an ASCII space if nothing else.
In strict historic English typography, the unbreakable whitespaces before punctuations are often smaller (sixth of cadratin) and that's why they are often missed in ASCII-only text.
Using a dot in French for thousandsof separators is often considered ugly (for many/most French readers, the number "123.436" would read the same as "123,456", i.e. it would be roughly one hundred). It's always better to use a space than a dot for thousands separators... And NEVER use a comma for thousand separators in French text (this is ALWAYS read as a decimals separator). With a space, a number like "123 456" is NEVER ambiguous for anyone...
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