Dingbats & geometric shapes: what's important?

Hi everyone,

I am currently in the process of adding the dingbats & stuff to my text typeface, and I am wondering what is important in publications and typesetting work. I see a couple of fonts having different subsets of these forms:

— Hoefler's Mercury

— Adobe's Source Serif Pro

— MvB's Verdigris

— Darden's Freight Text

I know that choosing the characters I will include here is a design decision, but I am contemplating the fuss in the concerned Unicode codepages and am quite wondering what an important subset is for publications, e.g. newpapers, dictionaries, math books and so forth; so in other words, what do you think is essentially useful in this area?

Secondly, I was wondering: should I make these symbols thicker in the Bold weight? Hoefler fonts seem to not do that which seems a reasonable thing to do, Source Serif Pro makes them thicker. Again, design decision I guess – I would like to know what you people usually do here.



  • 1) In my opinion the most important symbols are simple shapes like a filled square or outlined circle to mark the end of a text within editorial content. Maybe triangles are doing well for newspapers.

    2) Like Jean François Porchez, I always attempt to design the symbols growing with the weight. For e.g the floral heart this might be too much invisible love but for an arrow used within a running text, the weight should match the greyvalue of the specific font-weight.
    When designing the symbols with growing weight, I prefer to design them with identical character widths.

  • attarattar Posts: 209
    Thanks Jakob, honored that your first post is on this thread. I agree – there is also this small black lozenge newpapers and dictionaries seem to make use of sometimes.

    I think I'm going to test thickness with the Bold weight and see what works best w.r.t consistency and clarity, keeping the same characters is of course the lazier path. ;)

  • attarattar Posts: 209
    Here is how my manicule looks right now, btw:

    chr.png 35.4K
  • Stephen ColesStephen Coles Posts: 779
    edited January 2015
    To me, it’s too light to feel part of the same font.
  • The little finger is heavier in the white area than the others.
  • attarattar Posts: 209
    edited January 2015
    Here's how it looks right now – maybe still thin I guess.

    I have two other questions besides that:

    — Should superior numerals be tabular+unkerned?
    — Should prebuilt fractions be monowidth?

    Source Serif Pro seems to answer yes to both of these questions and I wonder what may motivate these choices.
  • Much better. You might consider rounding off the sharp corners that define the fingers and see which version looks better in 12 point.

    As for superiors, when they are intended for text I always make them tabular non-kerning, and prebuilt fractions monowidth. For display fonts, the design would be the deciding factor.
  • attarattar Posts: 209
    > As for superiors, when they are intended for text I always make them tabular non-kerning, and prebuilt fractions monowidth.

    Thanks George – I would like to understand the rationale behind this though, because out of text fonts it seems some do it and some don't.
    If it's not driven by a practical need then why would we do this? I should mention that I made proportional numerals the default in my font since tabular numerals look less natural and are somewhat an edge case.
  • Adrien, I'm thinking in terms of setting small text type such as price lists, catalogs, books and annual reports among other things, based on my many pre-desktop years of commercial typesetting experience.

    For such things as prices which use superiors in advertising copy, I agree that non-tabular numbers might be preferable above a given size. It is somewhat dependent upon the typeface, sometimes even the heavier weight(s) in a family which one might assume would never be used in small sizes or for setting tabular copy.

    You are right that some designers vary from my school of thought and that is fine. I just remember that when a customer picked a font for text that had non-tabular numbers but they wanted it used for tabular work, it became a nightmare for the typesetter.

    Today we can have the best of all worlds because of technology. Why not just include both in your font -- provided the design warrants it? Sure, it's a little more work, but in the long run you will have a more versatile product.

  • I friend of mine —he designs books and cultural works— likes to have variations of the paragraph letter.

    Also the heavy quotation mark ornaments was liked by customers in a text typeface for editorial usage.

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