How to report on foreign currency amounts in UK copy

Posted on December 3, 2019

 

When writing news, as we do for many of our clients, it’s inevitable that you will need to discuss money. With the world becoming a smaller place, it might not always be in the pound sterling we know and love either.

This article details how to report amounts of foreign currency in a way that British audiences can easily read, understand and relate to.

Reproducing the symbols

The first potential difficulty is that currencies have different symbols to denote them. In Britain, rather than writing ‘five pounds’, we would normally write ‘£5’. The pound sign (£) and dollar sign ($) are easy enough to find, but where on the keyboard is the symbol for the euro (€) or the Japanese yen (¥)?

There’s a variety of ways to type symbols that don’t appear on your keyboard. If you’re using a Windows PC, you can head to the Character Map to see a list of codes that produce some of the lesser known symbols. For example, as long as you have Num Lock activated, you can do the below to reproduce the following:

Hold down Alt and key in 0128 = € (euro)
Alt + 0162 = ¢ (cent)
Alt + 0165 = ¥ (yen)

Make sure you use the number pad on the right of the keyboard, not the numbers above the top row of letters.

On a Mac, it’s actually a little easier in my opinion:

Hold down Option and press 2 = €
Option + 4 = ¢
Option + Y = ¥

If all else fails, you could always look for an article on the internet that mentions the symbol you want, highlight it, and copy and paste it into your article.

Clarification where necessary

The currency site XE.com has a useful list of symbols for just about every world currency, but remember that you’re writing for a British audience. Is your reader going to know what ₮1,000 means, or are you better off writing ‘1,000 Mongolian tugrik’?

Also, be aware that some currencies share the same name. The US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Hong Kong all call their currency the dollar, but it’s not the same currency. Depending on the context, this may not be a problem – if you’re writing about an acquisition by an American company, there’s little need to clarify that it’s US dollars and not Canadian – but there might be occasions where you have to mention several world currencies. If necessary, you could prefix the amount with US$ for US dollars, or AU$ for Australian.

Is it relatable?

The next issue is that even if you accurately transcribe the amount, will it make much sense to a British reader? If, for example, you wanted to know how much a Ukrainian had spent on something, would you be any the wiser if you were told how many hryvnias it was?

We can see here that a Dynamo Kyiv shirt can be bought for 370-400 Ukrainian hryvnias. To make this amount less alien to UK readers, why not go to XE.com or another currency exchange site and found out what this equates to in pound sterling? You could then report:

“A Dynamo Kyiv shirt retails at 370-400 hryvnias (roughly £12-13).”

Since currency rates fluctuate, it’s fine to round up or down rather than give the amount to the penny. The reader just wants a ballpark understanding of the value.

As is always important in writing, these tips just make communication smoother and easier to understand for your reader. For clear and accurate content, even on unfamiliar subjects, talk to Engage Web.

John Murray

Content Team Leader at Engage Web
John works for Engage Web as a Content Team Leader and regularly contributes to the website and programmes of his beloved Chester F.C.

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