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How to Use OpenType Features

Information

OpenType features are additional glyphs built into a typeface that broadly cover alternate letter forms or systems for how glyphs appear in text.

They can include alternate characters, ligatures, tabular numbers, numerators and denominators, among a variety of other options and allow greater flexibility within a design space and in specific use-cases.  Most Colophon Foundry fonts will contain a number of OpenType features, full lists of options are available on each font product page and specimen document.

By design, OpenType features are ‘hidden’ in the typeface and not part of the standard character set. As different applications allow you to access OpenType features in different ways, we have pulled together a detailed guide on how to activate  these features in a selection of industry standard programs. 

Jump to:

Adobe Illustrator®
Adobe InDesign®
Adobe Photoshop®
Figma
Microsoft Word®
TextEdit
Sketch

Adobe Illustrator®

Screen Recording made with Adobe Illustrator® 2022

  1. Select the text box containing the glyph or glyphs you want to swap

  2. Open the OpenType panel by following: 

    Window -> Type -> OpenType 

    Or use the shortcut command:

     Mac — ⌥ + ⇧ + ⌘ + T
     Windows — Alt + Shift + Control + T 

  3. Select OpenType from the dialog box that appears 

  4. Click on the menu button ☰ on the far right of the OpenType panel 

  5. Click on the OpenType features you would like to activate

⁕ Clicking on this button will give you access to stylistic sets

Adobe InDesign®

Screen Recording made with Adobe InDesign® 2022

  1. Select the text box containing glyph or glyphs you want to swap

  2. Open the Character panel by following: 

    Window -> Type & Tables -> Character

    Or using the shortcut command: 

     Mac — ⌘+T 

     Windows — Ctrl+T 

  3. Click on the menu ☰ in the top right hand corner of the panel

  4. Select OpenType from the menu that appears

  5. Click on the OpenType features you would like to activate

⁕ Clicking on this button will give you access to stylistic sets

Adobe Photoshop®

Screen Recording made with Adobe Photoshop 2022

  1. Select the text box containing the glyph or glyphs you want to swap

  2. Open the Character panel by following: 

     Window -> Character

  3.  Click on the menu button ☰ in the top right hand corner of the panel

  4. Select OpenType from the menu that appears

  5. Click on the OpenType features you would like to activate

⁕ Clicking on this button will give you access to stylistic sets

Figma

Screen Recording made with Figma in August 2022

  1. Select the text box containing the glyph or glyphs you want to swap

  2. Click the ellipsis button that appears on the right hand side

  3. Select ‘Details’ in the ‘Type Settings’ dialog box that appears

  4. Scroll down to see the list of OpenType Features available

  5. Use the ☑ tick button to activate

⁕ Clicking on this button will give you access to stylistic sets

Microsoft Word®

Screen Recording made with Microsoft Word in August 2022

  1. Highlight the text containing the glyph or glyphs you want to swap

  2. Access OpenType features by following: 

     Format -> Fonts… 

  3. Select ‘Advanced’ in the dialog box that appears

  4. The OpenType features available will appear next to ‘Advanced Typography’

  5. Use the dropdown menus to select the OpenType features you would like to activate 

TextEdit

Screen Recording made with TextEdit Version 1.17 in macOS Monterey (12.6)

  1. Highlight the text containing the glyph or glyphs you want to swap

  2. Access OpenType features by following:
     Format -> Select Font -> Show Fonts

  3. From here, click on the ellipsis in the top left corner

  4. Select ‘Typography’ and use the arrow buttons to view the different sets of OpenType features

  5. Use the tick button to activate

Sketch

⁕ Screen Recording made with Sketch in August 2022

  1. Select the text box containing the glyph or glyphs you want to swap

  2. To access OpenType features, follow the path:
     Text -> Opentype Features

  3. Click on the OpenType features you would like to activate

To improve efficiency and streamline design guidelines for both individual designers and larger organizations, Colophon has developed a customizer tool that allows you to modify core font OpenType features to be switched on by default, rather than manually activated. In this instance, the default glyph would switch to being the alternate selection or set, and can be activated through the steps above. The CF-Creator also allows you to create new static instances, custom size variable fonts and rename typefaces with your company name (e.g. Colophon Basis) to create a typeface that becomes a completely unique design tool for your project.
Launch CF–Creator
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