Big ß

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Ehmcke -Antiqua with a capital ß, 1909

The large (also: big sharp S, ß versales, large bedrooms, large Eszett, ß-Majuskel ) is the uppercase form to lowercase ß (sharp s). The letter is used in the Versalschrift , for example in the word STRAẞE, as write variant replacing the SS by SS (ROAD).

Its inclusion in the German alphabet has been discussed since the end of the 19th century. At the beginning of 2008, the capital ß was included as a new character in the international Unicode standard for computer character sets; on June 24, 2008, the corresponding amendment to the ISO / IEC 10646 standard came into force. The ẞ has been part of the official German spelling since June 29, 2017 .


Small capitals with ß, replacement with ss (in Switzerland and Liechtenstein or if there is no ß), small caps with SS, small caps with small ß, small caps with capital ß

The beta comes in any historical or current spelling of the standard German before the letters. Therefore, the question of its capitalized form only arises when whole words are written in uppercase ( capitals ) or in small caps . Until the early 20th century, was German language mainly in broken scripts written and set in which the writing award rarely capitals were used for practical and aesthetic reasons; the locking rate was more common . Therefore, there was a greater demand for a large ß only at the beginning of the 20th century, when the German language was increasingly set in Antiqua . Since then, the upper case font has also been used in German in headings, on posters, signs, tombs, documents and similar locations.

Nevertheless, there was no official capital letter for ß for a long time. The spelling rules stipulated that the ß in the upper case should either be kept as a lower case letter (required for documents, for example) or replaced by the letter pair "SS" ( see below for details ). On June 29, 2017, the ẞ was added as a capitalized variant of the spelling so that it can be used officially today.

Capital letter ẞ

Large Eszett on the title page of Duden, Leipzig 1957.
Large eszett in the word "MUẞTEN" on the memorial plaque of the Edertalsperre
Capital ß on a street sign

The first proposals to introduce a capitals form for eszett in antiqua typesetting appeared in 1879 in the journal Journal für Buchdruckerkunst .

In the Duden dictionary of 1925 the need for a normalization of a capital ß was formulated:

"The use of two letters for a sound is only a makeshift , which has to stop as soon as a suitable block letter for the capital ß is created."

The titles of the GDR Duden from 1957 and 1960 (15th edition) showed a large Eszett, but the above rule still applied to the spelling.

In the 16th edition of 1969 the development of a large "ß" was also promised:

“Unfortunately, the letter ß is still missing as a capital letter. Efforts to make it are ongoing. It is now replaced by SS or, if misunderstandings are possible, by SZ. "

In the 25th edition of 1984 such a reference was missing, the words "unfortunately still" in the first sentence and "now still" in the second were deleted:

"The letter ß is missing as a capital letter. It is replaced by SS or, if misunderstandings are possible, by SZ. "

With the new German spelling from 2006, the replacement of SZ has been omitted:

"When written with capital letters you write SS."

On December 21, 2005, the managing director of the Council for German Spelling, Kerstin Güthert, justified the Council's position on the capital ß with the words: “It is […] a question that has been unanswered for decades and will probably remain there for some time to come . The reason is that the Council for German Spelling is not entitled to invent characters. His job is to observe the spelling and to make sure that the rules and writing usage are in harmony. An initiative from the writing community (e.g. on the part of the typographers) is therefore required to remedy this on the basis of a social consensus. "

In its 5-year report dated December 8, 2016, the Spelling Council suggested including the uppercase ß in its official set of rules. When reproducing ß in capital letters, in addition to reproducing with SS, it should also be possible to reproduce with (STRASSE and STRAẞE). On June 29, 2017, the German Spelling Council announced in a press release that the changes to the rules proposed in 2016, including their inclusion in the spelling, had been “by the responsible government agencies in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the Principality of Liechtenstein, the Autonomous Province of Bolzano-South Tyrol and the German-speaking Community of Belgium confirmed and thus become effective. ”Since then, every German letter has officially existed as lower and upper case. According to the spelling 2017 (§ 25 Supplement 3), in addition to "SS", "ẞ" (as a variant) is allowed in the capitalization:

“When writing capital letters you write SS . The capital letter ẞ can also be used. Example: Street - STRASSE - STRAẞE . "

According to the version of DIN 5008 "Writing and design rules for text and information processing" published in 2020 : "When using capital letters, the capital ẞ is preferable to the resolution in SS or SZ".

Capital letters without capital ẞ

Previously common spelling of ß in uppercase letters as 'SZ' on a Bundeswehr ammunition box

The replacement rules for capital letters changed from the 20th century. The German spelling of 1901 replaced the Eszett with "S" and "Z". After that, “Prussia” became “PREUSZEN”. In the course of the 20th century, however, the replacement by "SS" became more and more common. The development of the spelling rules in the West German Duden reflects the coexistence of the two forms. Shortly before the spelling reform of 1996 , the spelling “SZ” was only possible in exceptional cases, when replacing it with “SS” would lead to confusion. So “Mass” became “MASS”, but “Dimensions” became “MASZE”. The GDR editions of the Duden from 1969 and 1984 only made such a distinction in the event of misunderstandings and otherwise recommended for “SS”: “STRASSE, ROCKSCHÖSSE; ENJOYED IN MASS, here better: ENJOYED IN MASS ”.

The new German spelling wrote since 1996 the uniform versalierte replacing Eszett by the double letters "SS" before, according to the now traditional use. The distinction between “mass” and “dimensions” was no longer possible in capital letters.

The rules for the new German spelling of 2006 that apply to schools and authorities do not include a capital letter for ß: "Each letter exists as a lowercase letter and as a capital letter (exception ß)". In the upper case, the rules recommend replacing the "ß" with "SS" : "When spelling with capital letters you write SS, for example: Street - STRASSE."

However, the Standing Committee on Geographical Names decided in 2010 to make the official use of the capital ß mandatory, but will continue to replace it with "SS, ss" until the letter is widely used in pleadings.

Letterhead from Stefan Großmann, 1911

The replacement of the Eszett by other capital letters leads to ambiguity, especially with proper names. The name “WEISS” could stand for “white” or “white”, the name “LISZT” for “Liasst” or “Liszt”. In 1911 Stefan Großmann used the spelling “GROHSMANN” for his letterhead. Because of the different approaches, the mixed rate emerged as a further possibility. The Eszett is not replaced. The name “Weiß” becomes “WEIß” in the mixed capitals. This spelling has been used since the 1980s in the non-machine-readable part of German passports and identity cards , if the name is set in capital letters, but on the other hand a correct reproduction of the "original spelling " seems important. In the machine-readable section, however, the ß is replaced by SS. The German Post AG recommends leaving the Eszett when filling out forms in capital letters.

From a typographical point of view, the imbalance of the typeface is criticized, since the shapes of the upper and lower case letters in the font used usually differ in width, height and line thickness.

Design of the new letter

Large Eszett on the title page of the booklet Signa No. 9; the so-called Dresdner Form.
One of numerous other shapes that have been discussed again and again, which are based on the shapes of S and Z.

A higher aesthetic requirement than with documents consists in typographical text typesetting, as in company names, posters and inscriptions; the correct name should be retained in this case. Corresponding designs have existed since the end of the 19th century. In the 1920s and 1930s, some well-known typeface designers such as Fritz Helmuth Ehmcke , Georg Belwe , Jakob Erbar or Friedrich Hermann Ernst Schneidler created a capitals eszett in their fonts .

Much discussion has been (and in part still is) about how this new letter should be shaped. There are mainly the following approaches:

  • Lean capital ß on the small ß, adjust the character proportions to the other capital letters;
  • Form a capital Eszett as a ligature from the capital letters SS or SZ;
  • Large Eszett as a completely new form, based on S and Z;
  • Capital Eszett as an S with a diacritical mark (analogous to Ç or Á).

The difficulty lies in the combination of different requirements that are placed on the letter and that are sometimes perceived as contradicting:

  • The form should be understood straight away as ß by the "normal user of type" without special knowledge.
  • The shape should fit harmoniously into the Latin uppercase alphabet.
  • The shape should be sufficiently distinguishable from both the common ß and the capital B.

Computer set

Map of Congress Poland with ẞ in Congress Poland and Prussia

There is now a certain selection of fonts with ẞ for computer typesetting. For a long time, the main obstacle to practical use was that every manufacturer encoded the symbol differently. The ẞ has been included in the Unicode standard since April 2008 . Windows 7 includes some system fonts ( see below ) with support for ẞ.


In 2004, the typographer Andreas Stötzner, editor of the SIGNA magazine, applied to the Unicode Consortium for the inclusion of a Latin Capital Letter Double S in Unicode. The application was rejected for technical reasons - and because the existence of this letter was not sufficiently proven.

A second application for the inclusion of the large ẞ as "Latin Capital Letter Sharp S" was made in 2007 by the responsible DIN committee. During the 50th meeting of the responsible ISO / IEC working group from April 23 to 27, 2007, the capital + was assigned the number U + 1E9E in the Unicode block "Latin, additional" .

By assigning such numbers ( code points ), Unicode creates a general standard for data processing. A decision on how the shape of the respective character ( glyph ) should look is not connected with this. The Unicode Consortium has provided overview tables for viewing.

On April 4, 2008, the capital ẞ was published in the Unicode Standard Version 5.1. The standard algorithm for converting to capital letters continues to convert the lower case "ß" to "SS".

character Unicode
designation HTML
U + 1E9E LATIN CAPITAL LETTER SHARP S Latin Capital Letter Sharp S & # 7838;

At the same time, the Medieval Unicode Font Initiative is developing character assignments for medieval researchers. In this standard, from version 3.0 from 2009, the Unicode code point U + 1E9E given above is recommended for the capital ß; In the previous version 2.0 from 2006, however, the code point U + E3E4 from the private use area was recommended, as it was not yet included in Unicode at that time.

Keyboard input

The prerequisite for displaying the ẞ on computers and other electronic devices is always that the font also contains the character Zeichen, for example Liberation .

With the keyboard assignment T1

The keyboard layout T1 , which is currently the most widespread in Germany and Austria, does not contain the capital ẞ. The same applies to the keyboard layout that is common in Switzerland. Entering + ßon T1 keyboards creates a question mark . However, there are ways to enter the ẞ.

The ẞ can be entered in word processing programs under Windows such as LibreOffice or Microsoft Word . To do this, type in 1e9e (the above-mentioned Unicode code value) and then press the key combination Alt+ c. SoftMaker TextMaker from version 2016 uses the key combination Alt+ Strg+ Umschalt+ after the Unicode code point (1e9e or 1E9E) x. Starting with Windows 8, the key combination + Alt Gr+ ßallows you to enter the ẞ. In some programs such as Microsoft Word or Wordpad, it is also possible to enter the ẞ with Alt+ 7838(numerical value for hexadecimal 1e9e ) in the numeric keypad.

Special keyboard drivers are available for typing on Mac OS X and older versions of Windows.

With newer versions of the German standard key assignment of X11 , which is used by most Linux distributions and other Unixoid systems , the caps lock key ( ) must be activated and then the ßkey must be pressed. With older versions + Alt Gr+ had to be Spressed. In some Linux distributions, the ẞ can be entered by pressing the Compose key followed by + SS. There is another option in some Linux distributions, including Fedora , OpenSuse and Ubuntu , via the Unicode code point with Strg+ Alt+ U, followed by 1E9Eand the space bar .

With different keyboard layouts

German standard keyboard layout E1 with small and large eszett
Standard PC keyboard with keyboard layout T2

With the keyboard layout E1 in accordance with the German standard DIN 2137 : 2018-12, the character is entered with Alt Gr+ g("G as in capital letter"). (Similarly, it was entered with + in the previous keyboard layout T2 standardized in 2012 ). Please note that in contrast to entering other capital letters, the shift key must not be pressed at the same time. This is explained by the fact that the combination + is used for the question mark, and that it was a design requirement for the T2 assignment (and now also for the E1 assignment) that neither one was in the previous standard (i.e. in the current Assignment T1 ) changed the defined character assignment , a new key could be added, and that the capital ẞ should be enterable without group switching. A position to be entered had to be used. To avoid confusion with the lowercase letter ß, a position far removed from the latter was deliberately chosen. Alt Grh ßAlt Gr

The Neo keyboard layout allows you to enter the ẞ with + ß.

The EurKEY keyboard layout has been included in version 1.3 of the 1.3. In this version it is generated with + Alt Gr+ s.

Selected fonts with a capital ẞ

A number of historical and contemporary writings contain a capital ẞ.

It is increasingly taken into account in newly developed or revised fonts.

Historical writings

Font name First casting designer Type foundry
Schelter Antiqua No. 24 1905 House cut Schelter & Giesecke, Leipzig
Schelter Antiqua half bold 1906 House cut Schelter & Giesecke, Leipzig
Schelter italic 1906 House cut Schelter & Giesecke, Leipzig
Ehmcke Antiqua 1909 Fritz Helmuth Ehmcke Flinsch type foundry, Frankfurt am Main
Feather grotesque 1909 Jakob Erbar Ludwig & Mayer , Frankfurt am Main
Roland Grotesk 1909 House cut Schelter & Giesecke, Leipzig
Ehmcke in italics 1910 Fritz Helmuth Ehmcke Flinsch type foundry, Frankfurt am Main
Journal Antiqua 1910 Hermann ten pounds Type foundry Emil Gursch, Berlin
Kleukens Antiqua 1910 Friedrich Wilhelm Kleukens Bauersche Foundry , Frankfurt am Main
Grimm Antiqua 1911 Richard Grimm-Sachsenberg Julius Klinkhardt , Leipzig
Salzmann Antiqua No. 28 1912 Max Salzmann Schelter & Giesecke, Leipzig
Belwe Antiqua 1913 Georg Belwe Schelter & Giesecke, Leipzig
Coral broad semi-bold 1913 House cut Schelter & Giesecke, Leipzig
Belwe Italic 29 1914 Georg Belwe Schelter & Giesecke, Leipzig
Ehmcke Rustika 1914 Fritz Helmuth Ehmcke D. Stempel AG, Frankfurt am Main
gnome 1914 Albert Auspurg Schelter & Giesecke, Leipzig
Gnome width 1914 Albert Auspurg Schelter & Giesecke, Leipzig
Hummingbird No. 18318 1914 Albert Auspurg Schelter & Giesecke, Leipzig
coral 1915 House cut Schelter & Giesecke, Leipzig
Coral delicate 1919 House cut Schelter & Giesecke, Leipzig
Tailor Latin 1919 FH Ernst Schneidler Schelter & Giesecke, Leipzig
Schneidler Latin semi-bold 1920 FH Ernst Schneidler Schelter & Giesecke, Leipzig
Schneidler italic 1920 FH Ernst Schneidler Schelter & Giesecke, Leipzig
Tauperle 1921 Albert Auspurg Schelter & Giesecke, Leipzig
Perkeo 1921 Albert Auspurg Schelter & Giesecke, Leipzig
Coral very wide delicate no.18699 1923 House cut Schelter & Giesecke, Leipzig
Coral italic delicate 1923 House cut Schelter & Giesecke, Leipzig
Coral wide fat 1927 House cut Schelter & Giesecke, Leipzig
Coral fat 1927 House cut Schelter & Giesecke, Leipzig
Shakespeare Mediaeval 1927 Georg Belwe Schelter & Giesecke, Leipzig
Shakespeare italic 1928 Georg Belwe Schelter & Giesecke, Leipzig
Parcival 1930 Herbert Thannhaeuser Schelter & Giesecke, Leipzig
Shakespeare Mediaeval bold 1930 Georg Belwe Schelter & Giesecke, Leipzig
Battista Regular
New stone script
Eszett narrow
Logotypia Pro
P22 Underground Bold
Gray-blue Sans Pro
Microsoft Sans Serif

Computer fonts


Logo of the Giessen newspaper

The Gießener Zeitung , founded in 2008, contains a ẞ in the newspaper header .


Web links

Wiktionary: ẞ  - Explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Capital sharp s  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Versal-ß now officially standardized . In: , June 25, 2008, accessed June 29, 2017.
  2. ^ Council for German Spelling: Official rules for German spelling updated (press release). (PDF) Retrieved June 29, 2017 .
  3. The end of “mayonnaise”: That changes immediately with our spelling. In: Retrieved June 29, 2017 .
  4. ^ Ulrich Ammon et al .: German dictionary of variants . The standard language in Austria, Switzerland and Germany as well as in Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, East Belgium and South Tyrol. Berlin / New York (2004): Walter de Gruyter, S. LXI: "In Switzerland there is no ß , but ss instead ."
  5. "Every letter exists as a lowercase letter and as an uppercase letter (exception ß)." From: German spelling. Rules and dictionary. According to the recommendations of the German Spelling Council. Revised version of the official regulations 2004. Munich / Mannheim, February 2006, p. 15 (PDF)
  6. a b
  7. ^ A b Signa - Contributions to Signography. Issue 9, 2006, (online)
  8. ^ Preliminary remarks, XII. In: Duden - spelling. 9th edition. 1925.
  9. a b The Great Duden. Dictionary and guide to German spelling. 16th edition. Leipzig 1969, p. 581, K 41.
  10. a b The Great Duden. 25th edition. Leipzig 1984, p. 601, K 41.
  11. a b German spelling. Rules and dictionary. According to the recommendations of the German Spelling Council. Revised version of the official regulations 2004. Munich and Mannheim February 2006, p. 15. (PDF)
  12. ^ Statement of December 21, 2005. Quoted from: Signa - Contributions to Signography. Special Issue 9, 2006, (online)
  13. 3rd report of the Council for German Spelling (2011–2016). P. 7, accessed December 10, 2016.
  14. ^ ( Memento from July 6, 2017 in the Internet Archive )
  15. DIN 5008 : 2020-03, Section 13 “Emphasis”, footnote 5
  16. Recommendations and notes on the spelling of geographical names for publishers of map series and other publications for international use. Frankfurt am Main 2010, p. 10. ( PDF  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. )@1@ 2Template: Dead Link /  
  17. ↑ In some passports, the name is set directly in the original spelling (not in capital letters), as in the following passport, , so that no problem arises if the name contains ß.
  18. The transcription from ß in SS is specified in ICAO Standard 9303 ( Memento of November 23, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) (English; PDF , ≈ 1.1  MB ) for machine-readable passports. (6th edition, 2006; saved in the Internet archive on November 23, 2012.)
  19. Andreas Stötzner: Documentation Das versale ß (PDF)
  20. Andreas Stötzner: Proposal for coding a capital ß in Unicode ( n2888.pdf PDF ) (English).
  21. Unicode Consortium: Rejected Characters and Scripts . online (English); and as a comment: Michael Kaplan: Every character has a story # 15: CAPITAL SHARP S (not encoded) Michael Kaplan ( Memento from June 2, 2008 in the Internet Archive ) (English).
  22. Cord Wischhöfer: Proposal to encode Latin Capital Letter Sharp S to the UCS . ( n3327.pdf ) (English).
  23. Resolutions of WG 2 meeting 50 (resolutions of the 50th meeting of Working Group 2 of Sub-Committee 2 of the joint committee of ISO and IEC, English; MS Word ; 181 kB).
  24. What is Unicode? In: Unicode Consortium , August 7, 2008, accessed July 14, 2017 .
  25. Fonts and Keyboards. Glyph variations. In: FAQ. Unicode Consortium, June 28, 2017, accessed July 14, 2017 .
  26. Specification for the Unicode Standard, Version 5.1.0
  27. Specification for the Unicode Standard, Version 6.2.0 Chapter 5.18: Case Mappings (PDF; 892 kB).
  28. MUFI character recommendations ( Memento from December 27, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) (English) - Version 1.0 to 3.0 at the MUFI on July 20, 2010. ( secured in the Internet archive on December 27, 2013.)
  29. New spelling - The ß becomes big. In: Spiegel Online. June 29, 2017.
  30. The ß as a capital letter. In: , June 30, 2017.
  31. Capital letters ß on the keyboard: This is how you write the capital "ß" in Word & Co.! - . In: . 2017 ( ).
  32. ↑ The same key combination can already be assigned in TextMaker under Windows 7: In the menu under Insert, Special Characters ... the Unicode character U + 1E9E - the ẞ can be found, as far as the font supports it, in the subset "Additional Latin characters, extended" - by pressing the key combination + Alt Gr+ ßthe displayed functionally identical shortcuts Alt+ Strg+ Umschalt+ ßto add.
  34. The capital ß on the keyboard | c't magazine. In: Retrieved August 11, 2017 .
  35. ^ Karl Pentzlin: German PC keyboard extended for international correspondence. In: DIN-Mitteilungen 2/2011, p. 31 ff.
  36. a b c d Alphabets and ornaments for typographic drafts. Published by the Association of German Typographical Societies (based in Leipzig), Schelter & Gieseke, undated (around 1915).
  37. 48. Booklet, Kartenschriften, JG Schelter & Giesecke, Leipzig. 2nd edition, edition A, 1924.
  38. Association of type foundries, file card: Hummingbird No. 18,318th Registered on 15 December 1914 deduction of 10 July 1915th.
  39. Association of type foundries, file card: dewdrop. Registered on February 17, 1921, printed on August 25, 1922.
  40. Klingspor Museum