Skill Level Intermediate
- This week's type tip is, in general, about the amazing potential of OpenType, and specifically, its about a font called Chartwell, by Travis Cotcher, and this font is designed to create infographics. The Chartwell family comprises seven different types of font, gives you the opportunity to have seven different types of chart, pies, bars, vertical bars, rose charts, line charts, ring charts and radar charts, and they all work by harnessing the power of discretionary ligatures.
This means that we can create simple infographics, and also, quite complex infographics, directly within InDesign, and the data remains editable, because it is just a string of text. I'm gonna select that pie chart and press cmd or ctrl-Y to go to the story editor, and we see that it's nothing more than a string of numbers, a string of numbers connected by a plus symbol, and, in this case, in the case of the pie chart, followed, although sometimes, the letter, for certain styles, will precede the numbers, and it is that letter that is creating the inner space, and each of these numbers is a different color.
I need to make sure that my values add up to 20, but I could just change those values right there, and my pie chart will adjust accordingly. Let's now move to the second page, and I just want to turn off the discretionary ligatures to show you what happens when I do that. So, as well as all of the charting elements, there is also an extended alphabet that is part of each of these fonts that make up the Chartwell family, and we just type in our data, select the type, and come to where OpenType options, and we can either choose discretionary ligatures, or stylistic sets, set one, and then we get ourselves a pie chart.
The inner ring is determined by the letter suffix. As I mentioned, in some cases, it's a prefix, like in the case of the rose charts or the radar charts, the prefixed letter A through E will determine the grid. But in this case, it's a suffix, and we have a lowercase a through cap Z to determine the size of the inner ring.
So, if I change this to lowercase a, very small inner ring. Uppercase Z, a very large inner ring. So, we can go anywhere in between those two extremes. Using Chartwell does take a little bit of getting used to, and the sizes, as you got a sense there when I turned off discretionary ligatures, need to be significantly larger than the kind of sizes that you're typically used to working with with text.
It does come with a user manual, so all of these things are explained. To speed things up, you can use paragraph styles, and you can use nested styles within those. So, I have a color scheme, and character styles, color one through five, and if we take a look, for example, at my pie's style definition, in my drop caps and nested styles, I'm applying color one through one +, color two through one +, so the colors are automatically applied to the different segments of data, and you will want to have as many character styles nested within the paragraph style as you have pieces of data.
That's just gonna save you having to, one by one, select each piece of data and change its color. Chartwell is a commercial font. You might want to check this one out. If you don't have the budget to justify the expense, but would like to experiment with the concept, there is a free infographic font called Amazing Infographic.
It's available on dafont.com. Now, this doesn't have anywhere near as many options as Chartwell does, but if you just want to experiment and get a feel for how discretionary ligatures can be harnessed in such an interesting way. So, the next time you have a project that calls for infographics, the use of a font family like Chartwell combined with InDesign's paragraph styles and nested styles can really make your life a lot easier.