OpenType FAQs

Below are some resources on OpenType and how to use common OpenType features in your software.

OpenType Features Chart

After researching common OpenType features and how they work in the most-used Apps, I’ve created a free resource that shows you:

  1. How to access common OpenType features, or
  2. Which features are available in commonly used software

You may view the chart as a Google Sheet or download a PDF for reference. Please share the chart by linking back to this page.

View Google Sheet • Download PDF: Accessing OpenType Features


Using the Glyphs Panel

The Glyphs Panel, a feature of certain Adobe apps, is an amazing tool that allows you to manually select characters from a certain typeface within that typeface’s OpenType features. Adobe Illustrator, InDesign, and now Photoshop (version CC 2015) feature this panel. Features can be accessed in the dropdown menu within the Glyphs panel (boxed in red.) Alternates for a specific character may be found by clicking on the tiny triangle icon in the bottom right corner of a glyph (circled in red/yellow.) This powerful tool will help you customize your text in a more personal way and offers the most control over your type and the characters used.

Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 11.32.32 PM

To select alternate characters from the cell of an applicable glyph (such as the ones with a tiny triangle in the bottom right corner, circled in red/yellow) just click in the cell and hold until the alternate characters appear. Then drag your mouse to the desired alternate. Options include any stylistic alternates, initial and terminal forms, smallcaps, titling forms, and ornaments for that letter. Those alternates will also appear in the Glyphs Panel to the right side of the normal letterform.


What if I don’t have an app that supports OpenType?

For fully Unicode-mapped fonts, using the OpenType features can be done in any app- whether or not that program fully supports OpenType or has a Glyphs Panel. Use the following methods of copying / pasting characters from the Character map app in your system to access special features.

Windows

  • Open the Windows Character Map program.
  • Set the Font to the desired one in the list.
  • At the bottom, check [ ] Advanced View
  • Set “Group by:” to Unicode Subrange
  • At the bottom of the list, select “Private Use Characters”
  • Here’s a handy video about the process above.
  • Here’s more information about using Character Map in Windows.
  • Alternately, use the premium app PopChar

Mac

  • Open the FontBook app.
  • To copy characters, go to Preview / View > Repertoire.
  • Select and copy (CMD + C) the desired character.
  • You can then paste (CMD + V) the character(s) into the text field of your open program (such as Microsoft Word.)
  • If you’re using this guide for other fonts, please note: For non-unicode mapped fonts, the copy/paste results may not work.
  • Alternately, use the premium app PopChar or Ultra Character Map

Modified 4/11/2016