Re: Symbol Font Considered Harmful

Subject: Re: Symbol Font Considered Harmful
From: "Mike Starr" <mike -at- writestarr -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 3 Nov 2006 07:11:49 -0600

Thank you for an insightful discussion. I've been using the unicode versions of these symbols for many years but I'll certainly think twice before actually inserting anything from the Symbol font (something I typically only resort to for bullets or the like).

Mike Starr WriteStarr Information Services
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----- Original Message -----
Message: 32
Date: Thu, 2 Nov 2006 18:17:19 -0800
From: "Andrew Warren" <awarren -at- synaptics -dot- com>
Subject: Symbol Font Considered Harmful

I have a point, but I need about three paragraphs of setup before I can
make it. Fortunately, the rest of this post is so long that by the time
you're done, you'll hardly remember that you had to wade through this

I no longer approve documents that use the Symbol font for any purpose.
I now insist that "micro-" be either spelled out or represented by the
lowercase "u", and "ohm" either gets spelled out or omitted ("4.7k
resistor" or "4k7 resistor" are both well-understood in my industry to
mean "4.7 kiloohm resistor").

Every once in a while, someone actually needs a real "micro" or "ohm"
symbol in his document. In those cases, I'm okay -- barely -- with the
use of Unicode "micro" (U+00B5, ALT-0181) and "ohm" (U+2126, ALT-8486)
or "omega" (U+03A9, ALT-0937) characters from whatever regular font he's

Of course, when those Unicode characters get stripped by an ASCII-only
email system or the document's converted to a font that doesn't contain
those Unicode glyphs, the symbols will still disappear or be converted
to an ampersand or a copyright symbol or a little black box with a
question mark in it or something... But at least they won't masquerade
as reasonable-but-totally-wrong characters that are going to cost my
company a ton of money or injure someone.


=== Andrew Warren - awarren -at- synaptics -dot- com
=== Synaptics, Inc - Santa Clara, CA

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