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This page lists the rules for the use of the eszett, long s, and r rotunda in various languages, as used by Michael von Preußen in his roleplay as the Emperor of Großgermania. This usage specifically ignores the alterations in the usage of the long and short s in the English in the mid-eighteenth century, as well as the alterations in the usage of the eszett as prescribed by the German orthography reform of 1996, which he considers to be an illegal usurpation and degradation of the German language.

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The majuscule and minuscule eszett

The eszett, or sharp s, is an integral part of the German language and its dialects. One of only a handful of letters worldwide with no orthographical majuscule form, the eszett is rendered ß, and may be capitalized as for use in all- and small-cap typography. Occasionally, and especially pre-Unicodification of the character, the capital eszett would appear as . When the character is unavailable, it may be substituted with 'ss' or 'sz', depending on situation.


The eszett is only natively found in the German language and its dialects, and as such, only German-language orthography rules apply to its use. Despite its ability to be substituted with 'ss', one should not consider the eszett a replacement for a double-s, only the other way around. The eszett is usually a distinct letter, and only replaces a double s when such is formed irregularly at the end of a word or word component. Words written with a double-s may not have such substituted with the eszett. Verfassung, for example, must never be written as Verfaßung (in modern orthography; archaically, the latter was an accepted variant). In addition, if an eszett is unavailable, one should always use 'sz' to replace the eszett if substituting in 'ss' would form a different word. For example, substituting 'ss' into the phrase in Maßen ("in limited amounts") would produce the phrase in Massen ("in massive amounts").

Long S[]

The minuscule long and short s

Unlike the eszett, the long s (ſ) has no majuscule approximation. In all-caps and small-caps, it is always replaced with a short s (s). Rules for the use of the long s are, by virtue of the two characters being alternative glyphs of each other, combined with rules for use of the short s (s).

English and related[]

The following rules apply to the use of the long and short s in English, Welsh, Cornish, and Lowland Scots. With the exception of the abbreviation and line-break rules, substitution of the long s can be completed automatically using Michael von Preußen's English Long S Replacer.

  1. A short s is used when in the majuscule form;
  2. A short s is used terminally, except in abbreviations;
  3. A short s is used before an apostrophe or a hyphen;
  4. A short s is used before the letters 'f', 'b', and 'k';
  5. A long s is used after a hyphen, the above-mentioned rules withstanding;
  6. A short s is used after the letter 'f';
  7. A short s is used after the letter 's', except after the second 's' in 'sss';
  8. Compounds having the base stem ending in 'ss' and the trailing stem beginning with 's' may be hyphenated or not;
  9. A long s is used initially and medially, the above-mentioned rules withstanding; and
  10. A long s is used before a hyphen at a line break, even when a short s would be otherwise used in that medial position.
  1. Sileſia
  2. ſays; ſ.
  3. clos'd; bird's-neſt
  4. ſatisfaction, husband, ask
  5. off-ſet
  6. offset
  7. ſucceſsful; croſsſtitch
  8. croſs-ſtaff; Croſsſtaff
  9. ſtupid; empreſs
  10. huſ-band

Note that the above-listed rules are as they applied when the long s fell into disuse in English. Variations in its use evolved over time before then, and may still be occasionally seen in reproductions of antiquated text. The 1765 printing of Danby Pickering's Statutes at Large, for instance, made liberal usage of ſſ, only adjusting to ſs at word-end.

R Rotunda[]

The majuscule and minuscule r and minuscule r rotunda

Especially in blackletter typefaces, two glyphs exist for the minuscule letter r: that which survives to the modern Antiqua orthography, and the r rotunda (). The latter is used following certain letters with a rounded right edge, and as such, like the long s, properly has no majuscule form. The uppercase variant is encoded as of Unicode 5.1, however, and unlike the capital eszett is considered to be the uppercase form of ''. As such, care should be taken when converting lowercase text including the r rotunda to uppercase, as converting '' to 'R' is normally a preferable course of action.


In his 1755 Printer's Grammar, John Smith established that the r rotunda should follow the majuscule letters B, D, G, O, P, U, and W, and the minuscule b, d, h, o, p, and w. He noted, however, that in German these rules seldom applied. In common practice, usage of the r rotunda varied wildly until the eclipse of blackletter by Antiqua scripts: in English by the close of the eighteenth century, and in German, by government edict in 1941.

The following may be taken as general guidelines for use:

  • The r rotunda follows the letters B, D, Ð, O, b, ð, h, o, p, , ß, and þ.
  • The r rotunda follows the letters G, H, Þ, U, V, W, d, g, u, v, w, and y when they are written in such a way as to present a rounded right edge from the baseline to the median (for example, '' or '').
  • An apostrophe can intervene between a round-edged letter and the r rotunda; thus they'e.

The proper use of the r rotunda in combination with the same letter, either long or round, abound, such that every possible combination thereof can be found. Some typesetters opt to produce the geminate consonant as 'r'—for example, in the German-language Schönsperger Bible, which consistently transcribes der Herr as der Her. Conversely, the English blackletter in the title page of George Stanhope's second edition of Charron's Of Wisdom notes that the text has been Corected, reversing this order. For the remedy of this inconsistency, I have recommended above that the pairing be either uniformly long, as rr, or uniformly round, as ꝛꝛ, depending on the letter preceding. This to me makes the greatest sense, as the long r does not have a rounded right edge, while the r rotunda does.


In German specifically, the r rotunda may be used in place of the Tironian et, , in the abbreviation, etc., as such: c. This usage is not acceptable outside of German blackletter.