2012-03-28

Unicode Symbol Use: ➲ U+27B2

Decided to adopt a new unicode symbol usage. On my site, i have hundreds links of the form: (See: ‹link title›.). So, a article may have lots “(See: …)”, sometimes a few in a paragraph. I decided to replace the “(See: …)” with just “(➲ …)”, and get rid of the ending period.

Note that the Unicode char is U+27B2, named “CIRCLED HEAVY WHITE RIGHTWARDS ARROW”. It displays fine by default in all major browsers. This is a important point to consider when you want to adopt some unicode char. (➲ Arrows in Unicode)

Originally, i thought of using a eye icon. The one that i found are:

  • �� “EYES”
  • �� “EYEGLASSES”

but these characters are probably new in unicode 6, and they do not show in browsers except Firefox on my machine. Also, they don't really fit. The eyeglasses is OK but in normal sized font it's illegible. Then, i thought of using “WHITE RIGHT POINTING INDEX”. This char shows up but again not legible without larger font. This is a important point, because it ruled out many other iconographic symbols. I don't want to use HTML markup to enlarge the font, because that adds bulk and complexity and is distracting.

Then i thought of using a Egyptian eye icon. It is quickly ruled out because none of them shows up. (➲ Unicode: Egyptian Hieroglyph Characters)

Then i thought of just using a arrow, like this: (→ Syntax Design: Use of Unicode Matching Brackets as Specialized Delimiters), but that left paren and the arrow combo made it look like a emoticon. This is another interesting discovery. This means, certain sequence of symbols may create out-of-context side-effects that you want to avoid. (similar to the rise of ligatures)

So, in the end, i thought some other arrow might work. Thus i ends up with ➲. This is not the final choice, i might change it to something else in the future.

Why do i change the more clear “(See: …)” to a icon? It's not a critical change, nor a necessarily one. The change does not matter much to readers (in fact, probably reduce the meaning of the text a tiny bit. (because when you use English word “see”, the meaning is clear and the usage idiomatic. But with a symbolic icon, it became rather cryptic.)). But the advantage with the change is that it makes the text more systematic, and amenable for parsing. (kinda like a micro markup)

read more at Semantics & Symbols: Examples of Unicode Symbols Usage