This article was published in the April 1977 edition of Celsius, the author is unknown.
Image via Celsius Magazine (April 1977)
The symbol ‘L’ for litre is shortly expected to become a legal alternative in Australia to the existing symbol ‘l’.
The Australian move to accept ‘L’ has been made in spite of the decision of a recent meeting of the International Committee for Weights and Measures (CIPM) at Sevres in France not to adopt ‘L” as an alternative at present.
However it is expected that the subject will be raised again at the General Conference of Weights and Measures (CGPM)–the only body which can officially change an SI symbol–when it meets in 1980.
Australian authorities had supported the proposed change as a means of eliminating any confusion between ‘l’ and the number 1. They also pointed out that the present alternative symbol, the script ell, was not readily available on typewriter keyboards and it also posed problems in typeset material, electronic data processing and in teleprinting.
Because the authorities, including the Metric Conversion Board, believe that the use of ‘L’ could overcome these disadvantages they agreed to seek its inclusion as an alternative symbol in the officially declared list of Commonwealth legal units.
The National Standards Commission has recommended the adoption of the ‘L’ to the Minister for Science, Senator Webster, who has issued instructions for the preparation of an appropriate amendment to the Weights and Measures (National Standards) Regulations.
For the time being the existing symbol ‘l’ will be retained, although it is expected that ‘L’ will eventually replace it as the sole symbol. The ‘L’ will not alter when used with prefixes, e.g. mL will be the symbol for milliltre and kL will represent kilolitre.
In the United States, the symbol ‘L’ has been formally adopted under the Federal Register Notice and it is expected that Canada will follow suit.