Publishers of technology books, eBooks, and videos for creative people

Home > Articles > Design > Adobe Creative Suite

This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

OpenType Fonts

We’ve mentioned OpenType fonts a few times in the chapter so far; however, we should probably take a moment to discuss them. The OpenType font specification was created jointly by Microsoft and Adobe as a way to represent a font with only a single file on both Macintosh and Windows (so you can move the font cross-platform). The characters are encoded using the international standard Unicode, so each font can have hundreds, or even thousands of different characters—even the very large character sets in non-Roman languages such as Japanese.

InDesign can perform special tricks with OpenType fonts, such as replacing characters with swashes, or adding ligatures for character pairs such as ct and ffi.

Most of the special OpenType typesetting features in InDesign are hidden in the OpenType submenu in the Character or Control panel’s menu (see Figure 4-24). If a font doesn’t support one of these features, it appears in the menu within square brackets (“[Swash]”).

Figure 4-24

Figure 4-24. OpenType Features

Alternate Characters

The OpenType features work by replacing one or more glyphs with another single glyph. “fi” and “fl” ligatures that we discussed earlier are a great example of this, but they’re only the beginning.

Discretionary Ligatures. Font designers love making ligatures, but they recognize that users won’t want to use more esoteric ligatures (such as “ct” or “st”) in everyday text. If you select some text and turn on the Discretionary Ligatures feature, InDesign uses these lesser-known ligatures (if they’re available in the font). We usually turn this off except when we’re trying to make something look “old fashioned,” or when using a script typeface (such as Bickham Script Pro).

Fractions. Changing fake fractions (such as ½) to real fractions (½) has long been a thorn in the side of anyone laying out cookbooks or construction manuals. Fortunately, you can now just turn on the Fractions feature and anything that looks like a fraction will convert to the proper character automatically.

In some OpenType typefaces, only very basic fractions such as ½ and ¼ are converted. Other typefaces support those plus some extended fractions, such as 2by3.jpg and 5by8.jpg. Some fonts support arbitrary fractions such as 355by113.jpg. It depends on the design of the font.

Don’t turn on the Fractions feature for all your text because InDesign often assumes that all your numbers and much of your punctuation are part of fractions and turns them into numerators.

Ordinal. “First,” “second,” and “third” are all examples of ordinal numbers. InDesign can automatically set the “st”, “nd”, and “rd” (or the “o” and “a” in Spanish) to superscript when you turn Ordinal on in the OpenType submenu. “3rd,” for example, becomes “3rd”.

Swash. When you need to give a character a little more flair, select it and turn on the Swash feature. Swashes are typically used at the beginning or ending of words or sentences. You can see if a particular OpenType font has any swash characters by opening the Glyph panel and looking for Swash in the Show pop-up menu; some fonts (such as Adobe Caslon Pro) have swashes in their italic styles only.

Titling Alternates. Some OpenType fonts have special “titling” characters that are designed for all-uppercase type set at large sizes.

Contextual Alternates. Some OpenType fonts—mostly the script faces—have contextual ligatures and connecting alternates, which are very similar to ligatures. When you turn on Contextual Alternates, the result looks more like handwriting because the alternate characters connect to each other.

All Small Caps. When you turn on the Small Caps feature (which we described in “Case Options,” earlier), InDesign leaves uppercase characters alone. All Small Caps, however, forces uppercase characters to appear as lowercase small caps. This is useful when formatting acronyms such as DOS, NASA, or IBM.

Slashed Zero. The problem with the number 0 is that it looks far too much like the letter O in some fonts. Some folks like to differentiate the two by using a slashed zero (0) in place of a zero. When you apply the Slashed Zero OpenType style, every zero appears with a slash automatically.

Stylistic Sets. A few fonts go beyond offering a swash or contextual alternate here and there, and provide whole sets of alternates that each give a slightly different feel to the face as a whole. For example, you might like Thomas Phinney’s Hypatia Sans Pro, but realize that you don’t like the font’s double-loop “g”. No problem: Turn on stylistic set number four and the character changes throughout the selection (see Figure 4-25). You can enable more than one stylistic set at a time; select it once to turn it on, select it again to turn it off.

Figure 4-25

Figure 4-25. Stylistic Sets

Positional Forms. In some languages, characters change depending on their position in a word—for example, in Hebrew, the “mem” character changes from 273-01.jpg to 273-02.jpg when its at the end of a word.

InDesign uses the General positional form—which uses the normal glyph. If you choose Automatic Form, InDesign changes the character depending on its position in the word. You can override the form by choosing Initial, Medial, Final, or Isolated Form. It’s hard to find a font in which this feature does much of anything.

Raised and Lowered Characters

Typesetting a treatise on Einstein’s theory of relativity? If so, you’ll be mighty happy about InDesign’s ability to use true superscripts and subscripts instead of the faked scaled versions that you get with the Superscript and Subscript features in the Character panel’s menu. You have four choices in the OpenType submenu (each one is mutually exclusive of the others):

  • Superscript/Superior
  • Subscript/Inferior
  • Numerator
  • Denominator

However, note that most OpenType fonts only have a small set of characters designed to be superscript or subscript, so you can’t set any and all characters you want in these styles. For example, if you set the word “turkey” to Superscript/Superior style, only every other character changes. In some cases you’ll get the same result when you choose Denominator or Subscript/Inferior.

Formatting Numerals

We like “old style” numerals (you know, the kind with descenders: 1234567890) better than full-height “lining figures” (1234567890), and we’ve always gotten them by changing the font of the characters to an “expert” version of whatever font we were using (if one was available). So we were very happy to see that there are four different ways InDesign can format numerals: Proportional Oldstyle, Tabular Oldstyle, Proportional Lining, Tabular Lining (see Figure 4-26).

Figure 4-26

Figure 4-26. Old Style

Tabular Lining works well for financial tables (such as those found in an annual report), because numbers have equal widths and align from one line to the next. If you choose Tabular Oldstyle from the OpenType submenu, the numerals line up, but InDesign uses old style characters. Proportional Lining numerals are all the same height, but vary in width. David prefers this style for everything other than tables, especially when interspersing numbers and uppercase characters. Ole would rather use Proportional Oldstyle, which uses old style figures of varying widths.

The last OpenType numeral formatting option is Default Figure Style, which applies the figure style defined as the default by the type designer (so the effect varies from font to font).

Peachpit Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from Peachpit and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about Peachpit products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites; develop new products and services; conduct educational research; and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by Adobe Press. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive:

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020