How to use special characters with my software?

Special characters like swashes, alternates, and ligatures use open type technology to substitute character sequences with special glyphs. Not all existing software support OpenType (notably Silhouette Studio).You can check the software that works with standard open type ligatures here:

Open type features are supported in different ways.

For a complete list, please refer to the article at http://ilovetypography.com/OpenType/opentype-features.html.

Support of opentype features in Adobe software changes slightly from software to software. For example, you have access to Stylistic Sets in Indesign and Photoshop, but not in Illustrator while you have access to Stylistic Alternates in illustrator and photoshop but not in Indesign. 

A common workaround to these software limitations is to use the glyph palette:

  • in Adobe InDesign or Illustrator, choose Window > Type & Tables > Glyphs; 
  • in Photoshop, choose Window > Glyphs (if you want to access easily glyph replacement, click the Show menu and choose Alternates for Selection in the glyphs panel). You can also use the find & replace menu to apply substitutions globally in your document (link).

To access stylistic sets in InDesign, choose Window > Type & Tables > Character. Click the fly-out menu at the panel’s upper right, choose OpenType > Stylistic Sets. To apply a different set, deselect the first one and then pick a different one, or leave multiple sets selected to apply them together. InDesign’s OpenType menu also provides options for swash, contextual alternates and titling alternates. In Adobe applications, enabling each alternate individually provides different combinations of characters, as does enabling more than one at the same time.

To access contextual, stylistic, and titling alternates:

  • in Photoshop, choose Window > Character, click the panel’s fly-out menu, and choose OpenType to reveal a list of options;
  • in Illustrator, choose Window > Type > OpenType and then click the panel’s fly-out menu to get a list.


In Apple applications (TextEdit, Pages, Keynote, iBooks Author, etc.) choose Format > Font > Show Fonts or press Command-T. Click the gear menu (circled) and choose Typography. In the resulting panel, click the triangle next to the Alternates section and then turn on any of the alternates in the list to change the highlighted text. If the font also includes stylistic sets (not all of them do) you’ll see a section named Alternative Stylistic Sets.


Microsoft Word users be aware that Open Type works in Word only since Word 2010. To enable OpenType ligatures, right-click on some text, select Font, select the Advanced tab, and select "Standard Only" from the Ligatures combo box. This enables the standard ligatures, that we use for extra glyphs in all our open-type enhanced fonts.
For some of our typeface we provide a "compatibility pack" with only the extra characters and swashes, so that you can type them in any software - but generally if you need to use special characters within a software that doesn't support Opentype, the best option is to generate your designs with some open type enabled software and then export a vector or bitmap image you can work with. 

To access stylistic sets and contextual alternates in Word 2010 and higher, choose Format > Font and in the dialog box that opens, click Advanced and then click the Stylistic Sets menu. The switch for contextual alternates lies beneath that menu.

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