Pound Symbol (£) Meaning, Usage, origin | typing tips

pound symbol

Pound symbol, denoted by the £ sign, is a fascinating character with a rich history and diverse range of applications. We also call it with different names like Pound Sterling, GBP (Great Britain Pound), British currency etc.  In this comprehensive guide, we will embark on a captivating journey to explore the origins, uses, and symbolism of this iconic symbol.

I. Historical Background of the Pound Symbol or Pound Sterling

A. Origins and Evolution of the Symbol

roman currency

The symbol has its roots in ancient Roman currency, where it originated as a handwritten abbreviation for the Latin word “libra,” meaning “pound.” Over time, this abbreviation evolved into the distinctive symbol we recognize today. Its development showcases the fascinating journey of human communication and the evolution of written language.

B. Early Usage and Adaptations Across Cultures

Beyond its association with currency, the pound symbol found its way into various cultures and adapted to different contexts. For instance, in medieval Europe, it was commonly used in accounting records to represent pounds of weight. Its widespread adoption demonstrates the symbol’s versatility and enduring significance.

How to type it on different platforms | Keyboard shortcuts

Device/Platform Method Symbol
Windows PC Alt + 0163 (numeric keypad) £
Mac Option + 3 £
Linux Compose + L + – £
iPhone/iPad Press and hold the dollar ($) key £
Android Press and hold the dollar ($) key £
HTML £ £
LaTeX \pounds £
ASCII Alt + 156 (numeric keypad) £

How to write in MS Word 2013, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023 and Office 365:

  1. Open MS Word and place the cursor where you want to insert the pound symbol.
  2. Press and hold the “Alt” key on your keyboard.
  3. While holding the “Alt” key, type “0163” on the numeric keypad (make sure the Num Lock is on).
  4. Release the “Alt” key, and the pound symbol (£) should appear.

II. Currency

A. As a Currency Symbol

The pound symbol’s most prominent association lies with currency, particularly the British pound sterling (£). As an internationally recognized symbol, it represents monetary units in many English-speaking countries and territories. Its presence on price tags, invoices, and financial documents is ubiquitous.

B. Pound Sterling and Its Historical Significance

The pound sterling, often referred to as simply “the pound,” has a storied history dating back to the Anglo-Saxon period. The symbol £ became officially associated with the pound sterling in the 17th century. Throughout history, the pound sterling has played a pivotal role in global trade and finance, and the pound symbol stands as a testament to its enduring influence.

pound symbol

C. Other Currencies Worldwide

While the symbol is most commonly associated with the British pound sterling, it is worth noting that variations of the pound symbol are used in other currencies as well. Examples include the Egyptian pound (E£), the Lebanese pound (L£), and the Sudanese pound (SDG). These symbols not only represent monetary value but also evoke cultural and economic connections.

III. Pound Symbol in Weight and Measurement

A. As a Unit of Weight

In addition to its monetary significance, the symbol has long been utilized as a unit of weight. In the imperial system of measurement, it represents a unit equal to 16 ounces or approximately 0.4536 kilograms. The pound symbol’s association with weight measurement underscores its multifaceted nature and adaptability across various domains.

lb and kg

B. Conversion Factors and Variations Across Regions

It is important to note that the pound symbol’s usage as a unit of weight varies across different regions. While it is commonly used in countries following the imperial system, many countries have adopted the metric system and use alternative symbols. Understanding these conversions and regional variations is essential for accurate and consistent measurement.

IV. Pound Symbol in Computing and Typing

A. ASCII Code and Keyboard Entry

In the realm of computing, the pound symbol is an integral part of character encoding systems like ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange). It is assigned a specific code value that allows computers to represent and interpret it. On keyboards, the pound symbol can usually be entered by pressing a combination of keys, such as Alt + 156 on Windows or Option + 3 on Mac.


B. Programming Languages

Programmers often encounter the pound symbol in programming languages. In languages like Python, it is used to represent comments, providing explanations or annotations within the code. The pound symbol at the beginning of a line indicates that the text following it is for human understanding and is ignored by the computer when executing the program.

C. Unicode Representation and Variations

With the advent of Unicode, a universal character encoding standard, the pound symbol was assigned a specific code point (U+00A3). This ensures consistent representation across different computer systems and software applications. Unicode also includes variations of the pound symbol, such as the double-barred pound sign (₤), providing further typographical options.

V. Pound Symbol in Typography and Design

A. Typography History and Development

In the realm of typography, the pound symbol has undergone various transformations in style and design. From handwritten scripts to modern digital fonts, typographers have experimented with different forms and interpretations. The pound symbol’s distinctive shape and presence have captivated designers and played a vital role in shaping typographic aesthetics.

B. Modern Graphic Design

With the advent of graphic design and visual communication, the pound symbol has found its place in creating visually striking compositions. Designers often incorporate the pound symbol in logos, advertisements, and marketing materials to convey a sense of financial stability, quality, or elegance. Its bold presence and recognizable form make it a valuable tool for visual storytelling.

C. Creative Usage and Interpretations in Design

Designers continuously push the boundaries of creativity by exploring unique ways to utilize this symbol. They experiment with its form, color, and context to evoke specific emotions or convey subtle messages. The pound symbol’s versatility allows designers to create visually appealing and conceptually rich designs that resonate with audiences.

VI. Pound Symbol in Mathematics and Statistics

A. Pound Symbol in Mathematical Notation

Mathematics and statistics also incorporate the symbol in specialized contexts. In mathematical notation, the symbol may represent the pound-force unit, used to measure force. Additionally, it can denote the pound-mass unit, which is equivalent to 0.4536 kilograms. These applications demonstrate the pound symbol’s utilization in precise mathematical calculations.

lb to oz

B. Statistical Usage and Interpretations

In statistical analysis, the symbol may find its place in representing various variables and measures. For example, it can be used to denote pounds of weight in data sets related to body mass index or product quantities. The pound symbol’s usage ensures consistency and clarity when interpreting statistical data, allowing researchers and analysts to make accurate assessments.

VII. Pound Symbol’s Influence on Other Symbols

A. Impact on Related Symbols

It influenced the design and interpretation of other related symbols. For instance, the hashtag symbol (#) gained prominence through its association with the pound symbol in social media. The two symbols have become interconnected, with the pound symbol’s recognition contributing to the widespread adoption and usage of the hashtag symbol.

B. Connections and Similarities with Other Symbols

Symbols like the dollar sign ($) and the euro symbol (€) share visual similarities with the this symbol, reflecting historical and cultural connections. These symbols represent different currencies and have their own unique origins and associations. Exploring the connections and similarities between these symbols deepens our understanding of their shared historical and cultural influences.

VIII. International Standards and Encoding

A. ISO Standards


The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has established standards for the representation of the pound symbol. These standards ensure consistent encoding and interpretation across different computer systems, software applications, and digital platforms. Adherence to ISO standards enhances interoperability and facilitates accurate exchange of information involving this symbol.

B. Encoding Challenges and Compatibility Issues

Despite ISO standards, encoding challenges and compatibility issues may arise in the digital landscape. Different character encodings, font compatibility, and software limitations can affect the proper display and interpretation of the pound symbol. It is crucial for developers, designers, and users to address these challenges and ensure compatibility to maintain the symbol’s integrity.

C. Efforts for Standardization and Future Developments

Ongoing efforts continue to enhance the standardization of this symbol and its encoding practices. Collaborative initiatives between standardization bodies, software developers, and industry stakeholders aim to address encoding challenges and ensure consistent representation. Future developments may include advancements in font technology, improved character encoding standards


What is the difference between the pound symbol and the hashtag?

It (£) represents currency, while hashtag symbol (#) is used for metadata tagging in social media.

How is the pound symbol used in music notation?

It is used in music notation to indicate a sharp note.

Can the pound symbol be used in any currency?

No, this (£) specifically represents British pound sterling (GBP).

Is it related to the British pound sterling?

Yes, the symbol (£) is related to British pound sterling (GBP).

How can I type this on a keyboard?

To type the pound symbol (£) on a keyboard:

Windows – Alt + 0163, Mac – Option + 3, Linux – Ctrl + Shift + U, type 00A3, Enter, iOS/Android – tap and hold dollar ($) symbol.

What are some alternative names for this symbol?

Alternative names for the this symbol (£) include pound sign, pound currency symbol, GBP symbol.

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