RE: How to encode abbreviations [Was: Representative glyphs for combining kannada signs]

From: Keutgen, Walter (
Date: Thu Mar 30 2006 - 13:20:41 CST

  • Next message: Timothy Partridge: "Re: How to encode abbreviations [Was: Representative glyphs for combining"

    Dear all,

    this is about usage of ° (degree sign) or º (superscript o) in French numbering.

    Both are 'Latin-1 Supplement' characters

    ° = U+00B0 DEGREE SIGN -> 2070 superscript zero (the etymological origin?).
    º = U+00BA MASCULINE ORDINAL INDICATOR * Spanish ~ <super>006F o.

    In the Unicode 4.0 book, the degree sign glyph seems slightly bigger horizontally (elliptic) and the ordinal indicator has an underscore.

    A little sequence for the eyes: ²³°ºª (00B2, 00B3, 00B0, 00BA, 00AA)

    In Courier New font, the degree sign is slightly higher and smaller than the ordinal indicator.
    Note that I need to magnify my font size to really see the details.

    The *etymological* origin of French numberings 1°, 2° etc. is doubtless a superscript 'o' from the Latin 'primo', 'secundo' etc. as one would encounter superscript 'me' in 'Mme'. Unlike 'Mme', one would however not write a baseline 'o', this could be confused with a zero. The more, in handwriting, it would be safer to put an underscore in case one did not rise the symbol high enough, to avoid multiplying inadvertently the number by 10.

    Such French numberings are only used for paragraph numbering and one would perhaps even find (very rarely) a°, b° etc. They would appear in running text only for the purpose of referencing a paragraph. The most current style in French Belgian handwriting and I believe in old typewriting was 1) 2) etc. With PC word processors, it is rather the preferred style of the program which is selected, 1. 2. etc. I believe law people like the 1°, 2° etc.

    Can Philippe confirm which style(s) they prefer in France? And how would one read aloud 1°, 2° etc. in running text? I would bed 'primo', 'secundo', 'tertio' etc.

    Why do we use the degree sign?

    Well we use what is in the reach.

    On the mechanical typewriter, there were only keys associated to glyphs (2 by key)
    There was no 'zero' and no 'one'. To type 10 one used small L, capital O (lO) (rarely lo).
    Was there a key with a glyph like °? I do not remember.
    If yes, one would just have used the glyph ° for degree and Latin ordinal indicator as well.
    If no, one would avoid using this paragraph numbering style, unless forced,
    and for writing 'degree' one would turn the drum by one tooth.

    Philippe wrote that on very old French typewriter there was a key for N° with the ° underscored.

    On my Swiss keyboard there is only the degree sign represented as a bold dot.
    On a Belgian keyboard, there is ²³°.
    And, yes, the ° is represented smaller than the ² and ³.
    And the character code associated to ° is 0xB0.
    On a picture of a French keyboard, there is ²°.
    On a picture of a French Canadian keyboard there is only ²³!
    On a picture of a Canadian Multilingual keyboard there seem to be °, superscript 0123 and superscript oa!

    So if we want this numbering style in plain text, we will just use the degree sign.
    The word processor lets us choose from pictures, and what code point is it then?
    Does it matter?
    What matters is the numbering and avoiding mixing up the styles.

    Regarding n° (numéro) in flat text I would use the degree sign, provided the plural is not necessary, in which case I would fall back on 'no.' 'nos.'. In 'rich text' when using other superscripted abbreviations, I would use superscripted 'o' also. Not 0xBA, because of the danger to get an old fashioned (for us) underscore in some font.

    Regarding 'ditto' I would write this always in full.

    Question for Jon:

    On a picture of a Spanish keyboard there probably is ºª, no °. Can you confirm?
    How do you get the degree sign on paper, if yes?


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    -----Original Message-----
    From: [] On Behalf Of Jon Hanna
    Sent: Donnerstag, den 30. März 2006 12:37
    To: Antoine Leca
    Cc: Unicode Mailing List
    Subject: Re: How to encode abbreviations [Was: Representative glyphs for combining kannada signs]

    Antoine Leca wrote:
    >>the degree after the number above does not designate a o
    > Huh? 1º in French (normally in an enumerative list, mostly used in
    > administrative texts) stands for Latin /primo/ ("first"), 2º for /segundo/
    > ("second") etc. I always took the º to be the final letter of the
    > abbreviation (as in nº, for French /numéro/, itself from Latin /numero/.)
    > But I could be wrong.

    Me too. Similarly 1ª for prima, 2ª for secunda, 3ª for tertia and so on
    in feminine cases.

    Typographically, I understood that it was conventional for ° to be an
    even underline, but for º to allow for greater variation in stroke width
    and shape (perhaps being oval).

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