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January 25, 1999

Free fonts help you reproduce the euro symbol in documents

Where would we computer managers be without change? If all computer programs worked perfectly and never needed changes, most of us would be out of jobs. Now, on top of the usual year-2000 workload, 11 European countries have implemented a new, shared currency -- the euro. But most companies have no way to print the euro symbol in documents.

This currency switcheroo not only lets us PC pros help our companies sell widgets in the new money, but we also get the opportunity to download new, free fonts.

First, what does the symbol for the euro look like? As specified by the European Commission, it looks like a lower-case "e," but with two horizontal bars similar to an equal sign.

Microsoft has placed free, updated font files that contain the euro symbol on its "Fonts for the Web" page at This page offers the "core fonts" -- Arial, Times New Roman, and Courier New -- as well as several sophisticated new free fonts that display well on Web pages, such as Georgia, Verdana, and Trebuchet.

Microsoft's interpretation of the euro symbol is shown in the box below. The company's type designers have made an excellent translation of the symbol into Arial. The symbol is slightly condensed from its original, circular design. This allows it to align with numerals in spreadsheet columns.

Microsoft's version of the symbol in Times New Roman and Courier New, however, is pathetic. The horizontal lines are too light and will virtually disappear in small point sizes. The euro in these two typefaces looks like a capital "C" with faint superimposed lines. The result hardly resembles an "e" at all.

In any case, to support your new fonts, you need to take the following steps in various versions of Windows.

  • Windows NT 4.0. Install Service Pack 4 to get updated keyboard drivers, core fonts, and two other fonts that contain the euro symbol.

  • Windows 98. This version ships with the euro character already in its core fonts, but be sure to download the free fonts mentioned above, too.

  • Windows 95. Download the "Final Windows 95 Product Update" from Microsoft.

Details on the above downloads and a FAQ on application support for the euro symbol are available at This page also contains numerous links to sites with other free fonts, such as three type families from Adobe.

Once you have installed the updates, users of U.S. keyboards insert the euro character into their documents by typing Alt+0128. (Use Alt+0163 for British pounds, and Alt+0165 for yen.) Microsoft's FAQ describes several ways to insert a euro symbol most other countries' keyboards, most commonly RightAlt+e.

Try it -- impress your friends!

Brian Livingston's latest book is Windows 98 Secrets (IDG Books). Send tips to He regrets that he cannot answer individual questions.

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