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Special Characters

Lesson 6 from: Adobe InDesign CC Intermediate: Beyond the Basics

Erica Gamet

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Lesson Info

6. Special Characters

Lesson Info

Special Characters

All right, let's look at some of these special characters. Back on page one here. And I'm gonna make this just a little bit smaller so that it fits in here a little bit better. And we're gonna look at some of the characters that we have. I said I'm using open type fonts, let's double check that I have this. This is not open type at all, let's go ahead and just make this, let's go with light. So I want to make sure I have an open type font for sure. And I said that there are several more glyphs in an open type font, you can have up to 65,000, that's a lot of glyphs. But I want to look at how we access some of those glyphs that are available to us in a font. So when I do that, I'm gonna go ahead and just select some text. Select this whole paragraph. And I want to open up the glyphs panel, so under the Window menu under Type & Tables and Glyphs. I can see everything that's available to me in the particular font. And I know it's that font because down here it automatically fills in th...

e font from that, from the text that I have selected. And in here I can choose all sorts of special characters. So there's not a whole lot in this particular font, but we do have all our foreign characters and if we don't want to look through the entire font, we can instead choose just specific things, like for instance, one thing I use a lot is currency. And I don't know where they are necessarily. I can never remember where the euro symbol is, sometimes I can remember the pound symbol and I can never find the yen symbol at all. So I can look and see where that is and if I want to add something in here, let's just go ahead, I'm just going to do some pricing in here. And I know that it's like $2.50, two dollars and 50 cents. And then when I want to put in the pound sign, I can just go in here and double click on it and it automatically puts it in there for me. So I don't necessarily have to find it or remember if there is a keyword shortcut, I don't have to remember what it is. So I'll come in here and we'll just put in another amount and then we'll put in the euro as well. I have no idea what any conversion rate is. So we'll do that, but anyway, I have that and I have that easily accessible. And in fact it shows me things that I've used recently. So I've used some check marks and whatnot. And it'll automatically save that for me so my recently used ones will show up here. And then I can also create a set, so that if I want to find these again for me, I can create a set here, under the panel menu, I can come over here and say New Glyph Set and I'll call this Currency 2018 and I'll say okay. So now I can put items in there if I want, so I can take this item that we just selected this euro symbol here, and I can say Add to my Glyph Set. I can do the same thing with the yen, let's add that as well. And we'll go ahead and add the pound sign as well. So let's add that all to the glyph set. Now I can open up just that particular glyph set, and that's the only thing that I see in there. So if it's something I'm using a lot of, I might create a set just so that as I'm typing along so if I'm coming along and I'm working on this text that's here and I know, let me turn on my frames so I can see them, I can come in here and just start typing and when I need them I can just double click on them and they're ready for me and I don't have to hunt through them, I don't have to turn on the currency necessarily, it's just that's all that's going to show up in that glyph set. Let's come back and see our entire font again. So other things you might use that for, is you might have built in fractions, some open type fonts have tons of fractions available to you, this one has a quarter, a half and three quarters and that's it. But the nice thing is, it has it here ready for you as a glyph, but, depending again on the font, you might be able to just type in a value, let's say it was two thirds. And I don't see a two thirds here, but I can select this and if you notice when I did that, I get this blue line underneath, and suddenly there's two thirds right here for me. And that's because it's locking into the fractions ability that's built into this particular font. So I can just say two thirds. I'm gonna undo that, if I didn't have that available and in fact this blue line showing up is only maybe in the last couple of versions that that's there, but you can still get to it if you go under the character panel, and go up to the character panel menu, open type. So if you're using an open type font, you have a ton of different options available to you. If they're in brackets, there isn't anything available in that font, but I can see that fractions are available. So by selecting something that looks like a fraction, I can go ahead and say Fractions and it changes it for me. It's just that little blue one gives me quick access right away. What if I had something really weird like 237 over two? Well, I could select that and see what happens. Even that says, oh would you like to use the built-in fractions? So I don't have to go to the character panel anymore. So I can just roll over that and automatically make that into a fraction. And that's through the power of open type. Like I said, open type has a lot of different options available to it, you might have things like swashes, if you've got a font that allows for that. Don't know what if I have any that are in here. I know one I use a lot is caphlish, no I don't have that one there. That one has a lot of swashes. Sometimes you'll get your scripts will actually have a lot of swashes available to you. So I can come in here and check that in the glyphs panel and see if they have swashes available. Again in the character panel or the glyphs panel. Open type, it does not have that available. Stylistic sets, sometimes they have a whole group of different characters that you might be able to use, that are different forms of the same letter. For instance, capital letters might have one that the swashes might be more fancy. So anyway, it just depends on the font itself. But that's through the power of open type. Now for the glyphs panel you don't need to be just for the open type fonts, just know that open type fonts will give you a lot more options when it comes to all your glyphs available. Again, there can be up to 65,000 of them. So we can kind of see we've got some specialized fonts here as well, so here's kind of a different R, so if I just type in R, that's what the R looks like. But I can also come in here and have that R instead. So while that's not a swash, it's just a different style set that's there. So just know that that's available and if I select this, I should be able to see any other open type fonts that are available. So I click on this little open type thing not applicable even though it is one, don't know. Anyway, I can go ahead and access that right from the letters themselves. So keep in mind that you might have special glyphs available to you. Let me fill in placeholder text, whoa we do not want that in that script though. Let's close that up, let's go back to one of our favorites. Come here, we'll do Nimbus Sans again, we'll do regular. Actually select that, come in here, Nimbus Sans, regular. Again I have to have the character selected if I'm going to make character changes to the text. And we're gonna make this just a little bit smaller so we have more to work from, there we go, and jump to page one. Some of the other things that we can put in here are different types of white space, so right now, if I look at this type and I turn on what my hidden characters are, so I'm gonna come in here under Type and choose Show Hidden Characters. I can see that these little dots, these tell me that there's just a space, like a space bar space in between each of those words. But sometimes you want a different type of spacing. Maybe you have some em dashes or something. In fact, let's do that, instead of where I have these paragraphs I'm sorry, these parentheses, let's go ahead and put in some em dashes instead. So when I put an em dash in between text and I just used shift command, I'm sorry, shift option or shift alt dash that gives us that em dash, we, at least in American English, we don't put any spaces in between those em dashes. But sometimes that's just a little bit too tight for me, I kind of just wish there was just a little bit more spacing involved here and so I tend to put sometimes a thin space in between those dashes that are there. We're not really supposed to but sometimes the font just leads us to needing a little bit more breathing room. So in this case, I can go ahead and I can put this dash in here, and if I can't remember my keyboard shortcut for that I can come up under the Type menu and we have a lot of different special characters here. So we do actually have hyphens and dashes, there's my em dash. But what I wanted to do was before that, is I want to put in a Thin Space or Hair Space, just a little bit of spacing. So back under the Type menu, under Insert Special Character I'm sorry Insert White Space, we have a ton of different spaces available to us. A lot of which we won't even use, but I'm gonna choose Thin Space, no let's go Hair. So Hair Space gives me just a little breathing room, and it gives me this strange little, it's a dot with two dots above it. Now I do not know what half of these invisibles mean because each one of those white space characters has a different dot pattern to it. So obviously I know that it's not just a dot, which is a plain space, so I know it's a different spacing. Sometimes if I've brought it in from somewhere else and suddenly I'm like why does this spacing look odd? Well it's because they used and em space or an en space or some other strange space. But in this case I've got this little Thin Space, just before that, I'm actually going to just barely select it, copy that, and paste it, so I'm doing command or control v to paste that in and doing the same thing over here. So I'm just putting these tiny tiny little spaces in between. So that's just where you have all your different types of white spaces and again, that's just gonna be something that you're gonna get used to doing if you want to have that type of control over your typography. You don't necessarily need to. I also can tell it not to break something. So if you had your name, let's say. So I'm gonna go up here and I'm gonna put this right in the middle here, he's expounding to me. So I'm gonna put my name in here. And I don't want my name to ever break across a line. So I'm gonna select all of this text and I'm gonna go back to the Type menu and I'm gonna go ahead, and actually I lied, that's not where we're gonna go, we're gonna go to the character panel. This one lives over here because it's not a space. It's under here I want to come down to the bottom where it says No Break. So now that will never let this break. I'm gonna turn off those hidden characters so they're not in our way, but now if this text gets shortened up, this frame gets shortened up or expanded, I can see that, oh you think my last name is gonna drop off? But actually it holds on and then my entire name drops with it. So those two are never split across. So you might do something like that if you're doing for instance, when I'm doing like my workbooks, I have menus, so I'll do File and then I usually do a space and a greater than symbol and then Menu, you know, so I'm putting a whole directory of where this item is and so I tend to take the last word and that particular item that's here and I give it a No Break. Again it's in the character panel menu. No break, because I never want to start the line with this symbol that's here. So now that never breaks, those two will always stay together. We can also do the same thing but with a space, we can give it a non-breaking space, instead of trying to select the whole word, we can just as we're typing that in, if we know that we never want Time Traveler to be separated we can put in the space instead of a regular one. We can insert a White Space and then say Non-breaking Space. So now that space will never, those words will never break across the space either. So it works kind of the same except we're not selecting the word and the word can break but the space, those words always start on the same line at least. So that's how we keep those from breaking off into the next line. There's a lot of different white spaces that are there. Check out all the different characters that are there. Things that you might not know the keyboard shortcut for. The special characters, we've got all sorts of things, we've got symbols, you saw the bullets, the copyrights, all those, there are keyboard shortcuts for those. But sometimes if you can't remember, they actually live in here as well.

Ratings and Reviews

Marianne Stewart

I've been using InDesign for a decade, and decided to take this class to see what else I could learn. Wow! Erica taught me ways to do repetitive tasks easier, faster, and cleaner. She showed me many, many ways that I wasn't using InDesign to it's fullest potential (and now I am!). Her teaching style is very thorough and in-depth, but also easy to follow and understand. I highly recommend this class!


Great class, but as a former professional typesetter (before InDesign, PageMaker and QuarkXpress), Erica uses the term "Justified Left" incorrectly! (sorry!) There is no such thing. Justified refers only to text that spans the width of it's column from edge to edge. The spacing in-between words will vary. Used primarily in newsprint where the columns widths are narrow. The other proper terms for text alignment are: Flush Left Ragged Right (or) Left-Aligned Flush Right Ragged Left (or) Right-Aligned Centered Justified The oddball is "Justified". It's the only option where word spacing is variable. This is the least desirable because it creates "Rivers and Valleys" of white space that distract the eye. Letter and word spacing can be tightened or tweaked to improve the overall look, but at cost in time.


Great class and very informative. Erica’s a good instructor. Given the volume of information presented I’d like to see class materials included. It makes the course much easier to follow.

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