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Currency Examples

The following are real-world examples and brainstorming for marking up currency.

The Problem

The problem: how to explicitly specify a) that a figure/number relates to money; and b) the currency of a stated figure.

  • The currency sign cannot be used reliably since the same sign (or symbol) may represent more than one currency. eg. $ is used for many different dollars (USD, AUD, CAD...) and even other units like pesos.
  • The language of the page is not sufficient to define the currency of prices in the page:
    • More than one currency may be used by people who speak the same language.
    • The page may be written in one language and still quote prices/figures in a different country's currency.
    • Even if a country can be identified, more than one currency may be used in that country.

Converting currency figures is a reasonably easy problem to solve as indicated by the #Existing_Practices. However many automated conversion tools must make assumptions about the original figure's currency - eg. assuming a USD for all uses of $, or British Pounds for £ (which is also sometimes used to denote Lira).

Related problems

"Amounts" in arbitrary units is a bit harder and necessary for several applications.

For example, consider the work that has been done on a recipe microformat.


Though we haven't reached this problem yet in the research, I can see it coming:

Say you wanted to create a "shopping list" application which you could tell which recipes you wanted to cook, and have it automatically total up all the various amounts of ingredients and give you the net amount of stuff you wanted to pick up.

It would need to be able to determine precise amounts/units of each ingredient. This might turn out to be like the currency problem, or it might be more complex, given the variety of units used in recipes, English vs. metric etc. That's a case that might need a microformat. We need more research and analysis to really justify it, but I can see it within the realm of probable possibility.

Use of currency amounts in tables

Representing currency amounts in a table format is very common. For instance, see Google Financials.

In this table representation, it does not make sense to provide the currency information for each cell. Instead, it should be provided once at the table, thead, tr, or th, level, and then a td may override the default value. This is very similar to the common practice of indicating the currency and formatting in plain english: "Numbers in thousands of dollars" in the table title/subtitle or legend.


Real-World Examples

Links to public web pages, either popular or insightful


<span class="price">$39.99 <span class="currency">(USD)</span></span>


<td class="price">$34.85</td>

Bell Canada in French Canadian

<b>Niveau de service Premium - 125 $*</b>

Note the placement of the dollar sign AFTER the number.

Bell Canada in US English

<b>Premium Service Level - $125*</b>

Existing Practices

Firefox Extension

Firefox Currency Converter - ViewMyCurrency

Note: the current bug list illustrates some problems of identifying currencies based on page content alone:

  • All $ symbols are treated as USD Very annoying if you are Australian, Canadian etc. (Needs a new feature)
  • ‘Euro 2006 Championship’ should not be converted.
  • ...
  • Don’t convert CVS keywords . $Revision: 1.3 $ should not be treated as dollars.

Greasemonkey Scripts


Yahoo! Finance Currency Converter

Relevant Standards

ISO 4217 Codes

See Also