by Paul D. Hunt
How often do you write out the words “dollars,” “pounds sterling,” or “euros”? I’d wager that you seldom do as the symbols $, £, €, and ¢ are so easily to write and to access via computer and mobile keyboards. We may take these currency signs for granted, however not every major currency has its own mark. In particular, the Indian rupee has not had its own symbol until the past year. In early 2009, the Indian government announced a competition calling for the development of a character that would symbolize its national currency, the rupee, at home and in international markets. The final design, a symbol created by Udaya Kumar, was chosen and was ratified July 15, 20101. In a rare case of good timing and swift action, the rupee symbol was encoded in the latest revision of the Unicode standard, version 6.0, which went into effect October 11, 20102.
Despite having been made official less than a year ago, it seems that the Indian rupee symbol is quickly gaining widespread use within India. This has resulted in several of Adobe’s major international customers requesting font support for this character. In order to accommodate these requests, the type team at Adobe has added the rupee symbol to the following typeface families: Minion Pro3, Myriad Pro4, Courier Std5, and Letter Gothic Std6.
In designing the rupee character, several issues have to be taken into account. As a symbol meant to be used internationally, the rupee character should be designed in a way so as to harmonize with other monetary signs. For me, this meant that I had to fight the temptation of viewing the headline as analogous to the headline present in Indian scripts such as Devanagari, Bengali, and Gurmukhi. Instead, I was guided by our principal designer, Robert Slimbach, to consider the double horizontal bars of the rupee as similar to horizontal bars present in other currency symbols such as the euro, yen, &c.
Likewise, I had to resist the urge of trying to open up the top portion of the character to more evenly distribute the white space. This had the effect of reducing the salient features of this design that make it readily distinguishable from other symbols.
For fonts that support writing systems of India, the Indian rupee symbol often be required to work well with at least two sets of figures. Firstly, the rupee sign should harmonize with figures typically associated with Latin script, let’s call these international figures. Secondly, a well-designed rupee should not appear out of place when used with the native figures of the local writing system. The sample below is from the forthcoming Adobe Devanagari typeface.
The updated versions of Adobe fonts that include glyphs for the Indian rupee are not immediately available. However, it is expected that these fonts will be included in future releases of some of our software titles and will eventually be available for purchase from our web store.
1 Press Trust of India, ‘Indian rupee gets a symbol, joins elite currency club’, The Times of India, [website] (updated Jul 15, 2010). <http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2010-07-15/india-business/28319259_1_d-udaya-kumar-indian-currency-currency-symbol>
2 The Unicode Consortium, ‘History of Unicode Release and Publication Dates’, [website] (updated October 14, 2010). <http://unicode.org/history/publicationdates.html>
3 From version 2.103.
4 From version 2.097.
5 From version 2.062.
6 From version 2.052.