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Glyph Palette

Save Your Favorite Glyphs


The number of individual character an OpenType font can contain boggles the mind, and it sure boggles my eyeballs when I'm scrolling through one in the Glyphs palette. There doesn't seem to be a way to “bookmark” places in the palette so I can quickly locate the ones I use over and over again.


The Glyph palette contains an easy-to-overlook palette “flyout” menu. Open that menu and choose New Glyph Set, then name the set. When you select a glyph that you think you'd like to use again, choose Add to Glyph Set from the palette menu, or right-click/Control-click right on the glyph and choose the command there. You can mix glyphs from different fonts in the same set.

The next time you need to use that glyph, open the Glyph palette and choose the name of your custom Glyph Set from the Show popup menu at the top of the palette. All the individual glyphs belonging to the set, and only those glyphs, appear for easy access (Figure 3-16).


Figure 3-16 Custom Glyph sets are perfect for gathering together your favorite dingbats from different fonts.

View the Same Glyph in Different Fonts


I'd like to use the Glyphs palette to view how a particular character looks in various fonts, all in the same window.


The bad news is that the Glyphs palette is restricted to a single typeface and style per view. The good news is that you can get what you want on the Macintosh: Apple's OS X includes a robust Character Palette that acts like the Glyphs palette in some ways, but does some things that the Glyphs palette does not. One of its unique features is the ability to choose a glyph and see that same glyph as drawn by every active font, all in the same window. Fortunately, it works right within InDesign.

You can access the palette from within any program by choosing it from a menu. It's not in your menubar by default, though; you have to enable it. You only have to run through these steps once:

  1. Open System Preferences and click on the International icon.
  2. In the International preferences, click the Input Menu button.
  3. Turn on the Character palette checkbox. While you're here, you might also want to turn on Keyboard Viewer (OS X's KeyCaps equivalent) and Unicode Hex Input, if you ever want to enter a glyph from the keyboard. Make sure the the Show Input Menu in Menu Bar option is also turned on.
  4. Close System Preferences, and return to InDesign.
  5. To open the Character palette, click on the flag icon on the right side of your menu bar, and choose Show Character Palette. This is a persistent palette and will appear on top of every window in every OS X program until you close it.

Now you're ready to enjoy the Character Palette's cool feature mentioned above.

  1. From the Character Palette's View popup menu, choose Roman.
  2. Make sure that “by Category” is the highlighted pane.
  3. In the category list on the left pane, choose Latin (if the glyph is one of the 26 letters) or another relevant category. For example, if you want to see what an ampersand looks like in different fonts, choose the Punctuation category.
  4. The right-hand panel shows generic glyphs for members of the selected category. Click the glyph you're interested in.
  5. Below these panels you'll see a popup menu labeled Collections. Click on the menu and choose “Containing selected character.”
  6. In the bottom scrolling panel, OS X shows you the selected glyph as drawn by every font you have active in your system, with the name of the typeface and style below each one (Figure 3-17).

    Figure 3-17 Macintosh OS X's Character palette has a feature any designer would love. You can select a character in the top area, and see how that character looks in all active fonts on your system at the same time.

  7. In this same panel, select the glyph you want to use, and click the Insert button (or just double-click the glyph). The character is inserted at your cursor location. If you think you'd like to use particular glyph/font combo again, click the Add to Favorites button. You'll be able to see and select glyphs added to Favorites by choosing that pane instead of “by Category.”
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