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By Garrick Chow | Monday, March 22, 2010

Dingbat fonts: Ready-made ornaments, symbols, and shapes

Although most people have dozens if not hundreds of fonts installed on their computers in the form of serif, sans-serif, mono-spaced, and script fonts, an often overlooked font type is the dingbat font. On the computer you’re using right now, especially if you have a version of Microsoft Office installed, you probably have at least a handful of dingbat fonts available such Webdings, Wingdings, or Zapf Dingbats.

Unlike other types of fonts, which are collections of letters, special characters, and punctuation marks, dingbat fonts are collections of unique non-letter ornaments, symbols, and shapes. You’ve most likely checked out the dingbat fonts while trying to format a document, only to quickly dismiss them when you found there were no letters in those fonts. But dingbats can really come in handy at certain times.

Zapf dingbats features checkmarks, stars, scissors, and other useful icons.

For example, Zapf Dingbats is a large collection of stylized stars, checkmarks, scissor, and pencil icons, and other items that could be used for bulleted lists, flyers, or the like.

Wingdings includes mailboxes, pointing fingers, and the Apple Command key symbol.

Wingdings has flags, pointing fingers, religious symbols, and the cloverleaf command symbol found on Apple keyboards.

Webdings includes common signage and symbols, including a ribbon, the 'don't do what's inside this circle' symbol, and an information icon.

And many designers know that typing the letter C in the Webdings font is a quick way to create a single checkbox or even a series of boxes for credit card numbers on a form.

So take some time to browse through the dingbat type fonts installed on your computer, and you may find a couple of ornaments or shapes that will save you the time of firing up your image editing software to create graphics from scratch.

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