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The pound sign ( £) is the for the —the of the and previously of Great Britain and the Kingdom of England. The same symbol is used for similarly named currencies, such as the , the , the , etc. It is also sometimes used for currencies named , for example the now withdrawn .

The symbol derives from a capital "L", representing libra pondo, the basic unit of weight in the , which in turn is derived from the word, libra, meaning or a balance. The pound became an English unit of weight and in England became defined as the tower pound (equivalent to 350 grams) of fine (pure) . According to the Royal Mint Museum:

However, the simple letter L, in lower or upper case, was used to represent the pound sterling in printed books and newspapers until well into the 19th century.

The pound sign is placed before the number (e.g. "£12,000") and separated from the following digits by no space or only a .

The symbol ₤ (note the double dash at its middle) was called the lira sign in , before the adoption of the . It was used (in free variation with £) as an alternative to the more usual L. or Lit. to show prices in . It was also used unofficially as the symbol of the instead of the official Lm.

In American English, the term "pound sign" usually refers to the symbol , and the corresponding telephone key is called the "pound key". In Canadian English the symbols £ and # are both called the pound sign, but the # is also referred to as the "" and the "noughts-and-crosses board".

(2018). 9780195418163, Oxford University Press.

In the eighteenth-century metal fonts, the pound sign was identical to the italic capital "J" rotated 180 degrees.

In the standard, the symbol £ is called "pound sign" and the symbol ₤ "lira sign". These have respective code points:

Unicode notes that the "lira sign" is not widely used, and also claim that the preferred sign for lira is the pound sign.

Some fonts render the pound sign with a double bar (for example on a previous version of the British five pound note); this is simply a different , and the underlying character (and therefore Unicode codepoint) is still a pound sign, and not a lira sign.

The encoding of the £ symbol in position xA3 was standardised by Latin-1 in 1985. Position xA3 was used by the Digital Equipment Corporation VT220 terminal, the Amstrad CPC, the Commodore Amiga and the Acorn Archimedes. The IBM PC originally used a non-standard 8-bit character set Code page 437 in which the £ symbol was encoded as x9C; adoption of ISO character codes only came later with Microsoft Windows. The Atari ST also used position x9C. The HP Laserjet used position xBA for the £ symbol, while most other printers used x9C.

The BBC system which dated from 1976 encoded the £ as x23. Many early computers used a variant of with one of the less-frequently used characters replaced with the £. The UK national variant of ISO 646 was standardised as BS 4730 in 1985. This code was identical to ASCII except for two characters: x23 encoded "£" instead of "#", while x7E encoded "‾" instead of "~". The ZX Spectrum and the BBC Micro used x60 ("`"). The Commodore 64 used x5C ("\") and the Oric used x5F ("_").

IBM's EBCDIC code page 037 uses xB1 for the £ while code page 285 uses x5B. ICL's 1900-series mainframes used a six-bit encoding for characters, loosely based on BS 4730, with the £ symbol represented as octal 23 (hex 13).

Entry methods

produced for the British market included a "£" Https://< /ref> shows a machine with two modifier shifts (CAPS and FIG), with the "£" sign occupying the FIG shift position on the key for letter "B". But the advertisement notes that "We make special keyboards containing symbols, fractions, signs, etc., for the peculiar needs of Engineers, Builders, Architects, Chemists, Scientists, etc., or any staple trade."

On Latin-alphabet lacking a "£" symbol type element, a reasonable approximation could be made by typing an "f" over an "L".

In the era, equipment sold for commercial data processing in the UK needed not only to represent the pound sign, but also to handle pre-decimal currency (pounds, shillings, and pence, including halfpennies and farthings).

On Microsoft Windows, and , the UK keyboard layout has the "£" symbol on the 3 number key and is typed using:

On a keyboard in Windows, the "£" can be entered using:

On a US-International keyboard in Linux and Unix, the "£" can be entered using:

  • followed by

In Windows, it can also be generated through the Alt keycodes:

  • + (keeping Alt pressed until all 4 digits have been typed on the only)
  • +
  • +


  • +
The Character Map utility and 's Insert Symbol commands may also be used to enter this character.

The symbol "£" is in the character set and can be generated on most non-UK keyboard layouts which do not have a dedicated key for it, typically through: On UK Apple Mac keyboards, this is reversed, with the "£" symbol on the number 3 key, typed using:

Compose key
The sequence is:

Currencies that use the pound sign

Other uses
Until 2017 the logo of the UK Independence Party, a British political party, was based on the pound sign, symbolising the party's opposition to adoption of the and to the generally.

A symbol that appears to be a pound sign is used as the logo of the British record label , in fact this is a Germanic letter L standing for Lindstrom (the firm's founder Carl Lindstrom) and harking back to the companies roots as a Berlin based maker of gramophones.

The pound sign was used as the uppercase letter (the lowercase being ) signifying in the early 1993–1995 version of the .

See also

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