The estimated sign, ℮, also referred to as the e-mark, is a mark that can be found on some pre-packed goods in Europe. The estimated sign indicates that the packaging is filled according to the European Directive 76/211/EEC (amended by 2007/45/EC).
The scope of the directive is limited to packaging that has a predetermined nominal quantity of 5 grams (0.18 oz) to 10 kilograms (22 lb) or 5 millilitres (0.18 imp fl oz; 0.17 US fl oz) to 10 litres (2.2 imp gal; 2.6 US gal), is filled without the purchaser present and of which the quantity cannot be altered without opening or destroying the packing material.
The estimated sign indicates that:
- the average quantity of product in a batch of packages shall not be less than the nominal quantity stated on the label;
- the proportion of packages having a negative error greater than the tolerable negative error shall be sufficiently small for batches of packages to satisfy the requirements of the official reference test as specified in legislation;
- none of the packages marked have a negative error greater than twice the tolerable negative error (since no such package may bear the estimated sign).
The tolerable negative error is related to the nominal quantity and varies between 9% on packages nominally 50 g (1.8 oz) or 50 mL (1.8 imp fl oz; 1.7 US fl oz) or less, to 1.5% on packages nominally 1 kg (2.2 lb) or 1 L (0.22 imp gal; 0.26 US gal) or more. The tolerable error decreases as nominal quantity increases, and is done by alternating intervals where there is a fixed error (and thus over the interval the percentage error decreases) with intervals where there is a percentage error.
The mark looks like a stylised lower-case "e" and its shape, ℮, is precisely defined by an EU directive. It must be placed in the same field of vision as the nominal quantity. The sign has been added to the Unicode list of characters at position U+212E.
The estimated sign may be printed on a package if:
- the quantity of product in the package and its labelling meet the requirements, and
- the packer either measures the content of each package or carries out production checks in accordance with procedures recognized by the competent departments in the member state, and
- the packer holds at the disposal of those departments the documents containing the results of such checks and corrections and adjustments that have been shown to be necessary.
Tolerable Negative Error
Error tolerance decreases as nominal quantity increases, by alternating intervals of a given percent error with intervals of a given amount error: these interpolate between the stairstep decreases in percentage error.
Thus, for instance over the interval 50–100, the tolerable error is 4.5 grams or millilitres (referred to as units in the table below). At the left end of the interval, this is 4.5/50 = 9% error (as with the interval 5–50), while at the right end of the interval, this is 4.5/100 = 4.5% error (as with the interval 100–200). The factor of 2 reduction in percentage tolerable error (9% to 4.5%) corresponds to the size of the interval (50–100).
|Table of tolerable negative errors|
in g or ml
When using the table, the values of the tolerable negative errors shown as percentages in the table, calculated in units of weight or volume, shall be rounded up to the nearest one-tenth of a gram or millilitre.
In computer software
The "℮" symbol is assigned to position U+212E in Unicode letterlike symbols and can be invoked in various operating systems as per the table below:
|Apple Macintosh||in Character Palette, search for ESTIMATED SYMBOL|
|HTML or XML||℮ or ℮|
|Microsoft Windows||Alt + 212E or, using the Character Map program, search for estimated symbol.|
|Microsoft Word||U+212e or, use Insert Symbol, choose "Letterlike Symbols": the '℮' symbol is near the end of the second row.|
|OpenOffice.org||In Special Characters, in first row of Letterlike Symbols|
|TeX||\textestimated (requires the textcomp package)|
References with typographic specifications
Use of the sign
- Council Directive of 20 January 1976 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to the making-up by weight or by volume of certain prepackaged products
- Nederlands Meetinstituut [NMi]
- WELMEC Working Group 6 on e-marked prepackages [WELMEC WG6]