Council for German Orthography officially allows use of u+1E9E

Nina StössingerNina Stössinger Posts: 151
edited June 2017 in Miscellaneous News
New change to the official recommendations for German orthography:
E3: Bei Schreibung mit Großbuchstaben schreibt man SS. Daneben ist auch die Verwendung des Großbuchstabens ẞ möglich. Beispiel: Straße – STRASSE – STRAẞE . 
Translates to: “When using all capitals, SS is used. In addition, usage of the capital letter ẞ is also possible. Example: Straße – STRASSE – STRAẞE.”

From the Rat für Rechtschreibung’s third official report (in German; see p. 7/8):

What’s new here is that this is no longer merely recommends the cap eszett as a valid alternative for proper names but makes it a sanctioned alternate spelling in general orthography. In addition to official documents and forms (where personal names need to be capitalized) the report also highlights the usefulness in advertising and editorial settings, explicitly citing existing usage. 

I find it heartening to see that after the initial push to get this into Unicode, type design and typography practice can come together to raise awareness and have a real impact on how language lives. Congratulations and thanks, once again, to @Andreas Stötzner especially.


  • I'm glad tp see this, as I've been including this letter in my glyph sets for some time.

    After reading Typography.Guru's Capital Sharp S article years ago, I was convinced there was some validity to it's inclusion.
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 2,144
    It’s been ten years since we all first started putting this in our fonts.
    Always a fascinating and engaging design task to draw!
    Thanks, Andreas, and Adam Twardoch too was instrumental in the initial discussions at Typophile, IIRC.
  • GROẞARTIG! :grimace:
  • Best font news in a while!
  • Chris LozosChris Lozos Posts: 1,458
    A proper name should be presented properly ;-)

  • My best wishes and GRÜE aus Ladenburg... preusss 
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 2,144
    edited June 2017
    The Typedrawers typeface appears to be lacking this important character! 
    (And if substituted from another font, why in bold?)

  • Annex

    Council for German Spelling 2007 press release

    Das amtliche Regelwerk der deutschen Rechtschreibung wird seit seiner Inkraftsetzung im Jahre 2006 zum zweiten Mal aktualisiert und behutsam modernisiert. Die Änderungen nehmen Entwicklungen aus dem beobachteten Sprachgebrauch auf. Sie schaffen mit der Zulassung des Großbuchstabens „ẞ“ eine Wahlmöglichkeit, neben der die Schreibung mit „SS“ für „ß“ bei der Schreibung in Großbuchstaben erhalten bleibt.


    Since its inauguration in 2006, the official rules of German spelling have been updated for the second time and carefully modernized. The changes take developments from the observed language usage. The changes provide a choice by authorizing the uppercase letter “ẞ” as an alternative to continued use of “SS” when “ß” is written in capital letters.

    Official Rules of German Spelling, 2007

    (page 15)

    A Laut-Buchstaben-Zuordnungen
    0 Vorbemerkungen

    (1) Die Schreibung des Deutschen beruht auf einer Buchstabenschrift. Jeder Buchstabe existiert als Kleinbuchstabe und als Großbuchstabe:

    a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z ä ö ü ß
    A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z Ä Ö Ü ẞ

    Die Umlautbuchstaben ä, ö, ü werden im Folgenden mit den Buchstaben a, o, u zusammen eingeordnet; ß nach ss. Zum Ersatz von ß durch ss siehe § 25 E2. Zur Schreibung von ß bei Schreibung mit Großbuchstaben siehe § 25 E3.

    (page 29)

    2.3 Besonderheiten bei [s]

    § 25 Für das scharfe (stimmlose) [s] nach langem Vokal oder Diphthong schreibt man ß, wenn im Wortstamm kein weiterer Konsonant folgt.

    Das betrifft Wörter wie: Maß, Straße, Grieß, Spieß, groß, grüßen; außen, außer, draußen, Strauß, beißen, Fleiß, heißen. Ausnahme: aus.

    Zur Schreibung von [s] in Wörtern mit Auslautverhärtung wie Haus, graziös, Maus, Preis siehe § 23.

    E1: In manchen Wortstämmen wechselt bei Flexion und in Ableitungen die Länge und Kürze des Vokals vor [s]; entsprechend wechselt die Schreibung ß mit ss. Beispiele:

    fließen – er floss – Fluss – das Floß
    genießen – er genoss – Genuss
    wissen – er weiß – er wusste

    E2: Steht der Buchstabe ß nicht zur Verfügung, so schreibt man ss. In der Schweiz kann man immer ss schreiben. Beispiel: Straße – Strasse

    E3: Bei Schreibung mit Großbuchstaben schreibt man SS. Daneben ist auch die Verwendung des Großbuchstabens ẞ möglich. Beispiel: Straße – STRASSE – STRAẞE.


    (page 15)

    A Sound-letter assignments
    0 Preliminary remarks

    (1) German spelling is letter-based. Each letter exists as a lowercase letter and as an uppercase (capital) letter:

    A b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z ä ö ü ß
    A B C D E F G H I Y C L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z A Ö Ü ẞ

    In the following rules, the umlaut letters ä, ö, ü are now grouped together with the letters a, o, u; ß after ss. For the replacement of ß by ss see § 25 E2. For the spelling of ß with uppercase letters see § 25 E3.

    (page 29)

    2.3 Peculiarities of [s]

    § 25 Write ß for the sharp (voiceless) [s] after a long vowel or diphthong if there is no further consonant in the stem.

    This applies to words such as: measure, Maß, Straße, Grieß, Spieß, groß, grüßen; außen, außer, draußen, Strauß, beißen, Fleiß, heißen. Exception: aus.

    For the spelling of [s] in words with final hardening like Haus, graziös, Maus, Preis see § 23.

    E1: In some word stems, the length and brevity of the vowel preceding [s] changes; the spelling uses ß or ss accordingly. Examples:

    fließen – er floss – Fluss – das Floß
    genießen – er genoss – Genuss
    wissen – er weiß – er wusste

    E2: If the letter ß is not available, write ss. In Switzerland you can always write ss. Example: Straße – Strasse

    E3: When writing with uppercase letters, write SS. Alternatively, you can also use the capital letter ẞ. Example: Straße – STRASSE – STRAẞE.

  • Christian ThalmannChristian Thalmann Posts: 1,941
    edited July 2017
    Very interesting line-up! But as I've mentioned on, most of those samples strike me as ungainly or hard to read.

    In my very subjective opinion, the ideal ẞ (which I'm calling the Zürich form) has the following properties:
    • The top left is round. I can't help but read the /Γ-shaped versions as a /T_Z ligature. However, the stem should turn into the round curve relatively high up, well above the middle, so as to lend the stem its proper stability.
    • Instead, I recommend a hard corner on the top right, close to or at cap height. Round domes that curve down from the apex in both directions tend to produce a glyph that looks too small among the other capitals.
    • The structures on the right-hand side should follow a strong vertical line and not deviate from it too abruptly. Once of the most widespread features of ugly /ẞ designs is a hideous axe-cleft in the middle that introduces a hodge-podge of ill-fitting diagonals and vandalizes the counter. Instead, the counter should remain as a single visual body so as to differentiate from /B as clearly as possible.
    • Designs with closed bottoms or descenders should be avoided as a rule.
    • The /ẞ is a wide character, certainly wider than /B. It should be given proper space, or it will look cramped.
    Here are some examples from my typefaces Traction, Cormorant, and Quinoa that exemplify the Zürich design:

  • Adam TwardochAdam Twardoch Posts: 507
    edited July 2017

    even though your Traction solution looks a bit too "lowercasey" for my eyes, generally, I like this skeleton. One of my problems with the most common renditions of the Dresden skeleton was that it was very oddly asymmetric, and the counters weren't properly balanced. Many Dresden-style ẞ letters keep falling over to the right. But your forms, especially those in Cormorant and Quinoa, "stand on both feet". To me, this is an essential property of all uppercase letters. 

    I definitely support your notions that ẞ should be a "wide" letter — especially in typefaces where the uppercase has classical proportions (width alternating between square and half-square). 

    I think even with your solution to the right side of ẞ (which I like), I imagine that the top-left corner can have an edge (and a serif if needed). Then of course, the whole form might need to be a tad narrower. But overall — uppercase letters need visual solidity, and your solution does provide that! Thanks :) 
  • In a way, I consider my "Frankfurt" or "Berlin" skeletons "safer". The top-left corner is a "safe" solution and is not "wrong". Finding the "right" curve (arc) if one wants to go in the direction that Christian is proposing (an opened-up Dresden or Leipzig form) may be difficult. It's possible to find one (like Christian did in Cormorant), but if you cannot find a graceful curve there that fits the overall concept, don't make a shitty curve but do a corner instead. :) 
  • Here's my point put into pictures:

  • Andreas SeidelAndreas Seidel Posts: 13
    edited July 2017
    I support the approach to do the cap sharp s wider too. For me the cap sharp s needs to be wider than cap B. Only on very narrow or monospaced designs it should be narrow too. Here are some of my samples of the last years.

    I'm surprised of the "new and creative" names for these forms.
    Did we really need more town names?  - If so, I call my form "Dresden/Cottbus".

  • Christian ThalmannChristian Thalmann Posts: 1,941
    edited July 2017
    andreas said:
    I'm surprised of the "new and creative" names for these forms.
    Did we really need more town names?  - If so, I call my form "Dresden/Cottbus".
    We probably don't urgently need the names, but if we want to refer to a coherent bundle of design aspects that take a paragraph to describe otherwise, I'd say a name comes in handy. :grimace: 

    A lot of these names have already been established early in the effort to make the character official, so there's «historical» precedent there. Given that there's a name for the Zehlendorf-variant of the Leipzig approach (as introduced in the German federal government's house font), and my preferred design is essentially the vector addition of the Leipzig→Zehlendorf movement to the Dresden base, I feel defining an analogous name for that variant is justified. (I'd also argue that Zürich and Zehlendorf look different enough to warrant a distinction.)

    Which of these designs would you call Cottbus? They look quite different to me. Some of them even conform to the Zürich philosophy (bottom left). :grimace:
  • We could standardize the use of the "Zxxxx" names for the "wide forms with open counters": Zehlendorf, Zürich, Zottbus ;) 
  • Adam, great stuff! Thank you.
    And your collection really helps a great deal.

    Christian, I like your forms, although in certain designs a hard top-left would be better.

    I actually think a descender (possibly even on the right side) should not be rejected. The space is already almost always used by the "Q" (and often the "J") and it would help it be less a "B", more itself.

    BTW, I think using city naming is cool. And romantic.
    So, descending left is the Assen form and descending right is Memmingen?  :-)
  • Christian ThalmannChristian Thalmann Posts: 1,941
    edited July 2017
    Adam, Hrant: I can't get myself to read an ẞ with a hard corner in the top left as an ẞ. That corner is alien to the design of ß and works against intuitively identifying the ẞ as its capital form. As I keep mentioning, it rings the TZ ligature bell in my mind:

    (Typeface: Camphor)

    I'm sure I'm not the only one.  :grimace:

    I also doubt it would pair well with the Zehlendorf/Zürich right-hand side, since the whole thing would end up very Π-shaped then.
  • I admit to having no feeling for the potential "reading as TZ" aspect. If anything I would think a hard top-left might make it too a "B" (where a descender would help even more actually). But I do think it makes it feel much more formally uppercase. BTW to me looking like the capital of ß is not critical; readers will get it immediately, and adapt without even realizing.

    Maybe a soft top-right would pair well with a hard top-left. And maybe soft as in fully round all the way to the bottom-right component (although then it might be way too much a "B").
  • I've made the Quinoa implementation every so slightly narrower, since many felt it was too wide. It starts to look worse when I make it narrower than that.

    I'm reposting the image for reference/linking purposes. Better to use an optimized shape, I guess.

  • Hoi Nina,
    Is this all just your opinion or can you cite sources?
    Yes, it's my personal opinion, though based my own gradually evolved efforts to make the character look good in my typefaces. My earliest attempts echoed the unsatisfactory designs seen in many, if not most, common typefaces, and I found the strategies detailed in my «recipe» the most successful antidotes. I'd like to make those strategies available to those who have similar dissatisfactions with the commonly found design so as to save them some time, and perhaps sensitize them to the problem in the first place.
    I wonder if it’s a little early to make proclamatory “Bad”/“Good” diagrams.
    I'm sure it's too early to carve them into stone, but I would expect it's a good way to drive the discourse forward! :grimace:

    As for the issues you raised:
    • I don't subscribe to any a priori philosophical imperative that the glyph ought to be particularly wide, but I have yet to see a design that shares the width of /B and manages to look distinctly /ẞ-like as opposed to /B-like. To me, the unbroken channel of whitespace in the counter of /ẞ is one of its defining characteristics, inherited from the Cancellaresca-style /ß whose genome it appears to carry. (I realize there are /β-like designs for /ß that break that whitespace, but those are decidedly inappropriate for /ẞ due to the competition with /B.) At the same time, the horizontal motion on the right side must be significant enough to evoke the complexity of /ß. Trying to combine these two features harmoniously naturally leads to a glyph wider than /B in my opinion/experience. The need for a bottom terminal clearly separated from the stem only adds to that tendency. The width difference is often less pronounced than in my Quinoa sample, but nevertheless unavoidable (IMHO):

    • I don't think of Quinoa's /ẞ as timid at all. I see the counter as its main identifying feature, and it is very prominent. The sigmoid shape on the right side is also far from subtle IMHO. I don't think sacrificing some counter area in favor of more horizontal motion would render it more legible, though I'd be very interested to see some research about that...! Regardless, most of the designs with strong horizontal excursions look exaggerated and disharmonious to me, often comically so. There's something about that unanchored sequence of curve-diagonal-curve that feels like a ransom letter pieced together from a newspaper. Emphasizing the vertical motion and damping the back-and-forth motion greatly helps to reduce this impression.
  • Chris LozosChris Lozos Posts: 1,458
    Here is one of mine from a few years ago:

  • Ben BlomBen Blom Posts: 250
    edited July 2017

    Two questions about the “ß”.

    (1) Should there be (within one font family) a relationship between the lowercase design and the uppercase design of the “ß”? Do the different designs of the lowercase “ß” which exist, require some difference in the design of the corresponding uppercase “ẞ”? This is not about the small details of the design, but about variations in the general shape of the design (Gill Sans, Consolas, Arial):

    E3: When writing with uppercase letters, write SS. Alternatively, you can also use the capital letter ẞ. Example: Straße – STRASSE – STRAẞE.

    (2) What would be the best way to implement this in the OpenType features to create All Caps/Small Caps/All Small Caps? When using OpenType features to create uppercase from lowercase, should “SS” be the standard uppercase form of “ß”, and should a Stylistic Set be used to switch to the alternative form “ẞ” (except for Swiss German)?

  • Chris LozosChris Lozos Posts: 1,458
    If you think about the capital "A" vs the lowercase "a", the relationship which existed years ago, when lowercase was invented, is very difficult to see in today's modern version.  This leads me to believe that the need for rigid formal relationship between cases is not a requirement.  Once a form is established to a point that it is recognizable to that language's readers, it is free to evolve as it might.
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 2,973
    I think Ben is asking about what I would call idiomatic relationship, rather than direct relationship between upper and lowercase form. So, for example, in the lowercase, different shapes are associated with oldstyle and with romantic type idioms. I understand Ben to be asking if the same can be said regarding different forms of the uppercase. It's a good question. There is, of course, much less precedence, and the earliest forms of uppercase eszett, as far as I know, are a little less than 140 years old.
  • Christian ThalmannChristian Thalmann Posts: 1,941
    edited July 2017
    There is, of course, much less precedence, and the earliest forms of uppercase eszett, as far as I know, are a little less than 140 years old.
    I'd also like to point out that many of these historic, pre-official versions of ẞ look reasonably good, fit well into context, and are instantly legible without requiring a national re-education program. I guess most of those are lettering rather than type, but there's absolutely no reason why the same shouldn't be achievable in type. The problem is not just solvable; it has been solved many times over.

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