re: little lines below

From: Michael Everson (
Date: Tue Oct 13 1998 - 12:45:24 EDT

>>>>Be that as it may, the French use the DEGREE SIGN and they compose it with
>>>>N or n + °. It even looks like that in _Lexique des règles typographiques_.
>>>[Alain] :
>>Bad typographic taste if you ask me. I mean "n°" might well mean 'en
>[Alain] :
>With all due respect, it is like saying that a red wall is white just
>because it is lighted by a red light in the dark. (;

I don't follow the logic. The raised circle is a LETTER O. It's an
abbreviation for "numéro". Why should it be drawn, in a Times font, with a
perfectly round degree sign, and not with a small LETTER O? C'est illogique.

>If one wants to say N DEGREES, in French, like in English, one will
>explicitly writes so, not write "n°"

That's not true. Isn't "n" used as an algebraic indefinite number in
French? We talk in English about "the nth degree" ('à la puissance n', 'la
énième fois'), but if it was just incredibly cold we might say "it was n°
below zero".

>(btw in French, when we want to write
>two words, we write a space in between, i.e. "n °" could, very
>hypothetically, mean EN DEGREES).

In ordinary temperatures, however, you don't write a space, just e.g. 39°.
So you might be able to say that "il avait n° au-dessous de zéro"?

>"N°" or "n°" is definitely used only to indicate "numéro" in French. But if
>one wants to use a red light in the dark to understand something else in
>limited and absolutely out-of-this-world conditions, this situation is
>always theoretically possible, and part of the [sci-]fiction domain (;

My point was that, given the nature of the abbreviation, I don't see why n°
or N° (with a degree sign) should be considered superior to nº or Nº (with
the ordinal indicator).

Assuming of course that you are limited to Latin 1. I notice in _Les
caractères de l'Imprimerie Nationale_ that a superscript o, not a degree
sign, is used to indicate "numéro".

But in _Lexique des règles typographiques_ it also says "Il convient de
rappeler que 1º, 2º, 3º ... sont les abbréviations de primo, secundo,
tertio..., le signe supérieur étant un o et non un zéro". Surely the same
applies to numéro?

Michael Everson, Everson Gunn Teoranta **
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