Join Nigel French for an in-depth discussion in this video Working with picture fonts, part of Type Tips Weekly.
- [Instructor] In this week's Type Tip I'm going to talk about symbol fonts. Dingbats, circled numbers, icons all of that good stuff. Let's begin with dingbats. Now all of these are fonts of editable type so we need to think in terms of going beyond the 26 letters in upper, and lowercase, and the punctuation marks, and the numerals. Fonts can also be pictures. The venerable dingbat set is called Zapf Dingbats.
You almost certainly have it on your computer. It was designed by famous typographer Herman Zapf in the 1980s and I'll put my cursor into that text. We'll go to the Glyphs panel, and we see lots of really useful things here. Some of which, admittedly, look a little bit dated like the telephone and some of which maybe look a little cheesy, but many of them are very practical. I particularly like the solid square.
I find that very useful as an end of story marker. The check mark and the X if you're creating a list of dos and don'ts, and I also really like the quote mark which is useful for incorporating into a pullquote. Another very popular dingbats set, you probably have it on your computer, is Wingdings. There's a certain amount of overlap between this and Zapf Dingbats. Both of them will also give you a range of numbers in circles.
If that's what you want can be very useful, but you can see they only go up to, I think they might go up to, 20 or is it just 10? Yeah so there's a limited number. In this case they just go up to 10, but also in Wingdings we have a nice teardrop. We have this character which I also end up using somewhat regularly and it's a larger bullet than usual, and an un-stuffed ballot box if you're creating a form, and just need some boxes.
So then another category of picture font is ornaments, and these predate digital type by hundreds of years. And we have this kind of thing in Minion Pro, also in Adobe Caslon Pro, and you could use these in a purely decorative way as a section divider, or even as typographic wallpaper. Something like this, and that typographic wallpaper might be useful if you're creating end papers for a book.
Now as well as these traditional ornaments the font Chaparral Pro has these southwestern style ornaments which are interesting, and another popular ornaments set is Adobe Woodtype Ornaments. And you can use these as framing devices. I really love these catchwords. HWT, Hamilton Wood Type, Catchwords. These are available on Typekit.
Let's just go take a look at the site and we have all of these single, and in some case, two or three words, useful for advertising. So if you're creating any kind of vintage advertising look these might be very useful for you, and for map symbols we have Carta which contains commonly used cartographic symbols. Let's take a look at the Glyphs panel. Unfortunately they look rather small there.
You will find it can be a little bit tricky working with these symbols. Not specifically Carta, but just in general, because their size is going to vary from one to the next. So you might find yourself having to resize them a fair bit, but if you're involved in any sort of map making then you'll want to check out the Carta font. I mentioned circled numbers before, and we saw that in Zapf Dingbats, or in Wingdings you have them going up to 10.
There is also a trick that you can use with paragraph rules to create circled numbers, but an easy way to get them is to use this font, and there are others, but this is one that likely installed on your computers. Kozuka Gothic Pro. It is available on Adobe Typekit and here we have numbers that go up to 50. And then a font that I think is very aptly named, Font Awesome, because it really is a pretty amazing font.
It contains all sorts of social media icons. You don't need to worry about searching online for getting low resolutions PNGs. These are all crisp, vector fonts, and you can download Font Awesome from fontawesome.com. It has recently been upgraded to Font Awesome 5 which now offers Font Awesome brands, as well as Font Awesome icons.
As a way of finding the different icons you can use the Font Awesome cheat sheet, and either just scroll through that until you find what it is you're after, select it, and copy it, or, if you know what it is you're after, in this case I'm after an Instagram logo you can type that in in your find field in your browser, copy it, move back to InDesign, and so long as you have Font Awesome installed you can then paste it.
Font Awesome also makes a very clever use of ligatures. So, for example, if I want a Facebook icon, I'll just create a blank line there, I can just type the word Facebook, and as soon as I finish that text string the text is converted to a single icon. If we take a look at that in the Story editor, I'll get there by pressing Command or Ctrl + Y, we see that's how it looks.
So a couple of different ways, well three different ways if you also include the Glyphs panel. And just one other thing to mention with the Glyphs panel, I'll come back to Zapf Dingbats for this, and often with these symbol fonts the hardest part about using them is finding the particular character that you are after. It can often be like searching for a needle in a haystack, but in InDesign, and the same, unfortunately, is not true of Illustrator, or Photoshop, which both have Glyphs panels, but they are just not as capable as InDesign's.
Because in InDesign we have a search field, and let's say I'm looking for a pointing hand. I can just type in the first few characters and it will take me to the right character. So if you know what it is you're after you can just try typing it in plain English in the search field and there's a good chance you might find it. So there are some things to consider when working with symbol fonts, or sometimes referred to as pie fonts, or ornaments, or map symbols, or icons.
The most important message I want to leave you with is that if you're working regularly with any sort of icon there's a good chance that someone, somewhere has created a font of those icons. It's your mission to find that font, and it will save you a tremendous amount of time.