Submitted by Johan van Wingen
Date: September 13, 2001
Ministry of the Interior (Netherlands), Manual 5 (1995)
Standards for the exchange of personal data, Character sets
Rules for the use of the IJ in public records
Spoken Dutch has a sound that is written as either "ij" (lange IJ) or
as "ei" (korte IJ). The way it is spelled indicates a difference of
meaning (lijden vs. leiden, that is "to suffer" or "to lead"). By many
people the IJ is perceived as a single vowel (which is phonetically not
correct). The special position the IJ occupies has led to special rules
unanimously adopted in Dutch texts and writing usage. In automated
systems these rules have to be respected as much as possible, even if
these appear to be unique in the world.
Some international standards for character coding consider the "IJ" a
ligature and code it as a single letter (ISO/IEC 6937 and ISO/IEC
10646). Others (ISO/IEC 646, ISO/IEC 8859) only present the possibility
of coding the IJ as two separate letters (digraph).
In order to avoid unnecessary confusion between equally displayed, but
differently coded words or names in the same record or file, and to
promote unambiguous identification, fixed rules are required.
At including a personal name, or a geographical indication, into a
file, the IJ shall be coded as TWO separate letters, I and J.
Though the rule classifies the IJ as a digraph, it does not invalidate
the following rules that have become adopted in common usage.
1. The IJ is never hyphenated between I and J.
2. For indicating a stressed syllable an acute accent is placed on the
i, not on the j.
3. If an I and a J occur at the beginning of a word that has to start
with a capital letter, then both shall be written as a capital
4. At alphabetic ordering one may select one of the following rules:
a. I and J are treated as two independent letters, and are thus
placed between Ii and Ik, if occurring in succession.
b. IJ is considered the equivalent of the Y; at comparing words
being identical but for this, IJ precedes Y (cf. IJpma, Ypma).
(lists of names and places, in telephone directories)
5. At abbreviation of a first name of a person both I and J are kept.
(IJsbrand Eises Ypma --> IJ. E. Ypma)
6. In words written vertically, like occurring in shop signs and in
crossword puzzles, the IJ is placed horizontally, as if it were a
7. There are cases where the succession of I and J does not mean a IJ,
and applying of automated rules would produce incorrect results.
This can be avoided by inserting a hyphen in between (plooi-jurk,
Mooi-Japiksteeg) or by including the word into a list of exceptions
1The following cases are furthermore not considered a violation of the
8. As the result of formatting of a text for printing, I and J may be
put as close to each other as is desirable from a typographic point
of view, even if this involves "kerning".
9. Use of a single key for the IJ on a keyboard is allowed if thisis
applied consistently and no coding is implied.
10. Temporary coding of the IJ as if being a single symbol during text
processing is allowable.