I’ve had some users ask me questions about OpenType fonts recently and wanted to share the answers with everyone about how and when to use them.
The questions always revolve around how to access the extended characters. There are three things that must exist to get to those characters.
You Must Have An OpenType Font
OpenType fonts have existed for many years now, but they are still not as common as TrueType or PostScript fonts. That said, Microsoft has been supplying them with the last few versions of Windows, Adobe has been supplying them in font collections and Corel has included them with the last couple of versions of CorelDRAW.
The Font Must Have The Desired Extended Chararacters
Just because the font is an OpenType font does not mean it has the extended characters you desire. It seems the characters I am asked about most often are alternates and swash characters. These are both fairly rare. So if you are having trouble using these characters, it is quite possible the font you are using doesn’t have them.
You Must Have Software Capable of Accessing Those Characters
OK, you have the font and the font has the characters, you still need to have software of accessing them and this is also quite rare. CorelDRAW X6 was the first (and currently only) version of CorelDRAW with the ability. I wrote a tutorial entitled Do More With Your Text Using OpenType Features in CorelDRAW X6 that gives you a good overview of the feature. If you want more details than I covered in that free tutorial, there is an entire lesson dedicated to the topic in CorelDRAW X6 Unleashed along with a bunch of other lessons on getting the most from CorelDRAW. These characters are also accessible using Adobe InDesign. While there may be a few other titles with access to most of the characters, those are two biggies.
If you have all three of these items covered, there are a lot of cool things that you can do. If you are missing any one of them, you’ll just have to live with a smaller character set.