Greek curled beta in Unicode code chart

From: Alexej Kryukov (
Date: Sun Jul 03 2005 - 05:19:57 CDT

  • Next message: David Perry: "RE: Greek curled beta in Unicode code chart"

    First, a small introduction to the glyph history for those
    who are not familiar with Greek typography. There is a
    French typographic rule, which requires 2 separate forms
    of beta to be used at the beginning and at the middle/end
    of a word. This rule is also sometimes applied in Greece
    itself. Although I am not a Frenchman, I love this rule too,
    because I love fine Greek typography. I think, this rule
    is the only reason, why the curled beta, U+03D0, was introduced
    into the Unicode in addition to standard beta with descender
    (AFAIK, this glyph form is completely unknown to mathematicians).

    Now, the problem follows. If you have a look at classical typefaces
    designed by Monotype (which were most commonly used both in France
    and in Greece before the arrive of the computer era, especially
    for texts in classical Greek), you can see that in these typefaces
    curled beta has a specific form, so that its upper loop or curl doesn't
    reach the x-height, and so doesn't join the lower loop. The examples
    of these typefaces are available at
    Note that the form I described was used in Times New Roman as well
    as in Linotype Times Ten, and so it is appropriate not only for
    "classical" typefaces, but also for Times-styled fonts.

    However, the Unicode code chart shows at 03D0 a slightly different
    form, more similar to Latin script "b", where two loops are joined.
    Well, this shape is also possible in *some* fonts (but not in
    Times-styled, as I have shown above). Sometimes it is really used in
    Greek printing *instead of* the standard beta with descender.
    However, I have never seen it in any editions where the French
    rule is applied, i. e. both beta with descender and curled beta
    are present. Consequently, if one thinks beta with joined loops
    is appropriate for his font, he may well place it to 03B2, but
    if he really wants to design a font suitable for typesetting
    classical texts according to French rules, he should make 03D0 similar
    to the glyph present in Monotype fonts, rather to one shown in

    Well, I understand the glyph shape shown in the code chart is not
    mandatory, but, unfortunately, most font designers don't. And even
    worse, some people just take the standard beta, remove its
    descender, and place the resulting glyph (which looks extremely
    ugly and is absolutely useless) to 03D0. In fact, currently
    there are just no Unicode fonts with useable curled beta, just
    because most designers follow the standard too strictly.

    So my question is: is it possible to make one small change in
    the code chart, i. e. redraw the 03D0 glyph in order to make
    its shape more "classical"? I think, such a change will not
    contradict to the Unicode policy :)

    Alexej Kryukov <akrioukov at newmail dot ru>
    Moscow State University
    Historical Faculty

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