French group separators, was Re: The character for 10**24 in Japanese numbers (jo)

From: Tex Texin (
Date: Mon Jul 07 2003 - 02:41:00 EDT

  • Next message: Philippe Verdy: "Re: French group separators, was Re: The character for 10**24 in Japanese numbers (jo)"

    Thanks for your comments.
    My sense is that number format varies somewhat depending on the application or
    vertical industry, so it can be hard to say what the most popular usage is in
    any regional market. I try to ignore the question of which format is right for
    each market and just point out the requirements that may be placed on an
    application so a software architect can internationalize appropriately.
    Whoever defines the application's requirements for its particular user
    community should attempt to determine the more specific details. So, I don't
    intend for someone to see the French entry and insist on a space group
    separator, I expect they will only anticipate it may be expected to be
    available by that user community. I thought I said that somewhere on the page,
    but maybe I will make it more clear.

    Thanks for your comments. I may add some of the notes to the page. However, I
    want to question your recommendation of U+2009 as I believe that is a breaking
    space. Perhaps you meant U+2007 Figure Space?

    The comment of my own I may add, is that for some software applications, using
    these spaces may affect searching.

    With respect to your last comment: "With a space, a number like "123 456" is
    NEVER ambiguous for anyone...",
    the word "never" is too strong. For me it is very ambiguous, since it looks to
    me like two numbers. ;-)


    Philippe Verdy wrote:
    > On Sunday, July 06, 2003 11:21 PM, Stefan Persson <> wrote:
    > > Tex Texin wrote:
    > > > (I am trying to correct the table at
    > > > )
    > >
    > > 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...
    > -- Philippe.

    Tex Texin   cell: +1 781 789 1898
    Xen Master                
    Making e-Business Work Around the World

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Mon Jul 07 2003 - 03:29:44 EDT