PAGE, on an uppercase ß

Posted on 3 January 2008 in:

After having lived in Germany for years, I‘m in PAGE, the German design magazine! Did I have to leave the country to get invited to the party? The January 2008 issue features an article on the possible introduction of a capital eszett, which it seems has recently been awarded a Unicode value. The article’s title tells you a lot already: Kontrovers: Versal-ß – Brauchen wir wirklich ein Eszett für den Versalsatz? (In English, “Controversy: Capital ß – Do we really need an eszett for all caps text?”)

My answer is no. Unicode or not, I still am not a fan. I love the lowercase ß, but don’t see much benefit of creating any new capital letter. The ß in particular is a ligature between a long-s and a round-s, and in typography, only the round-s has a capital form; a few sparse historical exceptions do not a rule make. Convention has it that ß is substituted by SS in strings of capitals. Establish a capital long-s, and then I’ll think about a capital long-s + round-s ligature! Anyway, the article is a great read, and Ralf Herrmann and Jürgen Weltin also weigh in as the other two featured talking heads.