Pet peeve: empty .notdef character.

I just spent some time browsing fonts on typekit and was surprised by the number of fonts I came across which had a blank .notdef character. What's worse, a few had blank, zero-width .notdef characters.

I just thought I’d use this forum to urge people to please include some sort of glyph in this slot. Be creative or just use a simple square. Just please don't leave it blank!

Comments

  • AbrahamLeeAbrahamLee Posts: 251
    This makes me wonder, what’s the most creative .notdef glyph you’ve seen?
  • Be creative or just use a simple square

    In any case, make sure that the glyph stands out, in terms of typographic color. A .notdef glyph that looks too much like a regular character is almost as bad as an empty one.

  • AbrahamLee: well, that'd be one of my own of course :neutral: 

    This is the default (and not changeable) .notdef for the quick-font InDesign utility IndyFont:


    It always gets inserted in any font you create with it, and you cannot change it to something else (at least, not from within IndyFont). Thus, it doubles as a unique signature.

    It's intentionally based on the logogram of IF itself, and with a background added to make it not look like any "standard" character.

    The danger of having a sufficiently creative glyph is indeed that people will use it. That even goes for the blank nondescript square; I've seen those used as checkboxes way too often.
  • I don’t know if this is still the case, but the old type 1 fonts from Font Bureau all had a unique dingbat as a .notdef character (e.g. Aardvark had an aardvark). While this was certainly creative, I'd much rather the fonts have used a standard square and put the dingbat in the apple logo position where it could actually be used (assuming this wasn’t used for a FB logo of some sort).
  • James PuckettJames Puckett Posts: 1,752
    I always use the box-with-an-x-inside design. It sees to be the most common design, so I assume that it is what people expect to see when proofing.
  • This makes me wonder, what’s the most creative .notdef glyph you’ve seen?

    I think there is a lot of fun to be had in the .notdef's. As long as it is (slightly clear) that something is missing, or that they actually give you another usable character instead. 

    Not really to toot my own horn, but here are some of my solutions, looking for ways to merge the .notdef with the overall typeface concept.

    For Fabel, a typeface based on animals, the .notdef is the Conservation status extinct symbol (since hey, the animal for your character isn't there!) This character was made to make it quite clear something is missing.



    For my top-secret tinfoil hat dingbats the /notdef was a top secret stamp, since even if the typeface reveals crackpot theories, there will always be secrets! (this time, that's unsupported glyphs sadly) For this I chose to visualise the .notdef close to the rest of the icons. (since even if there is something wrong, it still is useful!)



    More examples are welcome!
  • Chris LozosChris Lozos Posts: 1,342
    edited May 2018
    I always use a tombstone with a question mark reversed out of it as if to say "the glyph who
    lives here has died and I don't know who it is"
      
  • Kent LewKent Lew Posts: 905
    I don’t know if this is still the case, but the old type 1 fonts from Font Bureau all had a unique dingbat as a .notdef character (e.g. Aardvark had an aardvark).

    Hmm. As I recall, the old Font Bureau PS Type 1 fonts were generated with empty .notdefs. The unique dingbat glyph (known in-house as the “party” character) was drawn for the apple character slot (uniF8FF).

  • @Kent Lew

    Turns out you are correct. I'd mistakenly thought this was the .notdef character because, while it may have been intended for the apple slot, they also copied it into every empty glyph slot in the codepage.
  • Chris LozosChris Lozos Posts: 1,342
    Typically, the foundry logo appears in what you call the Apple slot.  Apple put their own logo there in all the fonts they bundled with their system software.

  • Apple put their logo there, but they also assigned it a position on their standard  keyboard layout. I think that's what lead to its use as a logo-position catching on. (this, of course, was pre-unicode so I'm not calling it uniF8FF — that came later).
  • Khaled HosnyKhaled Hosny Posts: 284
    edited May 2018
    Good thing is that many applications ignore the .notdef glyph in the font and just draw a hex box showing the hex number of the character.



  • Roel NieskensRoel Nieskens Posts: 151
    And when used as a web font, it will never show up.
  • Kent LewKent Lew Posts: 905
    while it may have been intended for the apple slot, they also copied it into every empty glyph slot in the codepage.
    André — True. I’d forgotten that when a designer hadn’t filled all slots, the party character was dumped in.
  • And when used as a web font, it will never show up.
    Interestingly enough, I recently had a situation where I explicitly wanted to show a webfont's .notdef character... is that a typoxymoron?
  • Kent LewKent Lew Posts: 905
    Can you do it by using html entity to enter a non-existent code? Or maybe by entering the <NUL> code? For instance: �

    (I went into HTML mode and typed "&#0000" to get that display, which I assume is a .notdef. But I’m not sure if it’s the .notdef specific to the Typedrawers webfont or from a fallback.)
  • That character appears to be uniFFFD (replacement character to replace unrepresentable character) rather than .notdef
  • I always use the box-with-an-x-inside design. It sees to be the most common design, so I assume that it is what people expect to see when proofing.
    I agree as it’s what I would expect most. I find a bit ambiguous the question mark solution, while doing a vertically proportioned rectangle with the cross inside makes it clear it’s not a checkbox mark or the similar and I find it’s the best solution.
  • Georg SeifertGeorg Seifert Posts: 647
    This is what Glyphs puts in the font if you don't have a .notdef glyph:


  • This is what Glyphs puts in the font if you don't have a .notdef glyph:


    That is also nice, but it’s in english alone. The "crossed out" rectangle is more universally recognizable, IMO, despite the language and it has immediacy as well.
  • Mark SimonsonMark Simonson Posts: 1,317
    It just needs to have <locl> support. :smile:
  • It just needs to have <locl> support. :smile:
    But again, does the average user know what "glyph" means in typography?
    In italian, “glifo" has a quite different main meaning, you should write "manca il carattere", which is too long and causes confusion, as "carattere [tipografico]" also means "typeface".
  • Mark SimonsonMark Simonson Posts: 1,317
    edited May 8
    I agree that Glyphs' "NO GLYPH" solution is not great because it's in English (I always roll my own anyway), but it does have the virtue of being a character that no one would find useful.

    (The <locl> idea was meant as a joke.)
  • I agree that Glyphs' "NO GLYPH" solution is not great because it's in English (I always roll my own anyway), but it does have the virtue of being a character that no one would find useful.

    (The <locl> idea was meant as a joke.)
    Ah, I did not get it was meant as a joke… :D
    Well, the "no glyph" icon is nice, but looks almost like a logo.
  • André G. IsaakAndré G. Isaak Posts: 536
    edited May 8
    Glyph's .notdef glyph might not be ideal, but I do think the approach of automatically adding a .notdef glyph if the designer hasn't supplied one is an excellent idea which other font software really ought to adopt.
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