(Re)Designing the Euro Symbol

A. Scott Britton's picture

I know that various type designers have now added the Euro sign to their typefaces that existed before the advent of said symbol (Times New Roman, Courier and Arial, to name a few). But--in your esteemed opinions--what is the legal/moral implication of designing a "typeface" that is a collection of various interpretations of the Euro symbol in 30 or so prominent existing typefaces? The idea would be to design the symbol in keeping with the general aesthetic rules of each typeface (regardless of whether the original designer has revamped the typeface to include the symbol or not--all's fair in love, war and new symbols, right?) Of course I'd throw in a few unique designs (that don't fit with any existing typefaces). Just a little project I'd like to start working on, and I thought I'd turn to you all for some feedback.

A. Scott Britton's picture

Oh, another thing...
Does anyone know how serious the EU is when it comes to maintaining the general design? If so, any ideas as to how I can obtain those standards? (Can't find it on the EU site.) Anyway, I want to stress that my idea is in no way meant to step on the feet or rights of other designers--its really just a collection of Euro variations, not necessarily belonging to any one typeface (just compatible with some others). Thanks everyone.

Thomas Phinney's picture

Given that the overwhelming majority of fonts have already been retrofitted with the euro symbol, what's the point of the project? Just trying to understand. It's kind of like deciding to do your own letter "a" for a bunch of different fonts.

Legally, if you did it from scratch and didn't use outlines from the original font, there presumably would only be issues for fonts whose abstract design is protected, and maybe not even then. But it's something that I'd consult a lawyer about, or not do at all.

Ethically, since the symbols aren't much use without the original font, I don't see a major problem. Though there is also the issue of respect for the original work, kind of like when modifying a font for a client's internal use.

As for the EU and the design, they have no interest in maintaining the "general design," but rather maintain the EXACT design. But they treat it like a logo, in that it can only look exactly one way. The people who specified it clearly had no concept of how a currency symbol is used, so type designers just ignore them.



A. Scott Britton's picture

Well, you're right, it is very similar to choosing a character and nursing an obsession with it. It might be crazy, and the more I think about it, the more I realize that I might like it better if I make several variations on the character completely unrelated to any existing typeface. Perhaps a simple statement to the EU.
Thanks for your input, I'm fond of your work.

pstanley's picture

You will find technical and legal information on the design of the Euro symbol (including the Commission's communication thereon, which has a very detailed specification) here.

gianotten's picture

Thomas wrote: "The people who specified it clearly had no concept of how a currency symbol is used, so type designers just ignore them".
I agree. It's a monster. A logo sometimes maltreated by designers. There is only one solution. Make a matching euro sign in the proper typeface and match the figure width.
As far as this "Brussel-euro" design I know that Jean Francois Porchez has both versions in the Sabon Next. One matches the "Brussels-width, the other one the figure.

Si_Daniels's picture

Dear A.

I'm with Tom, I don't think making a symbol font would be a very good idea, getting permission from the various designers and vendors would be time-consuming and some would probably not give you the okay.

Making a coffee-table book, or a Web site that uses images or a Flash movie might be more interesting.

As for the EU we occasionally get communication from EU workers (I wouldn't classify them as EU officials necessarily) asking why we don't include the official euro in our fonts - I usually respond with more questions - are you willing to have your documents reflow if we match the official width, or should we shrink the symbol down and center it? What do we do about bold or italic? What do we do with decorative fonts? etc., So far I've not received a reply to any of these questions.

Cheers, Si
Microsoft typography

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