5 Favorite Fonts with Hidden Type Ornaments

by Joel Friedlander on April 2, 2012 · 13 comments

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If you’re a video gamer, or if you have one in the house, you may be familiar with the phenomenon of “easter eggs.”

“A virtual Easter egg is an intentional hidden message, in-joke, or feature in a work such as a computer program, web page, video game, movie, book, or crossword.”—Wikipedia

Google is pretty well-known for placing easter eggs in various places on their search screen, and it can be fun to hunt for “hidden treasure” in otherwise normal software.

In the same way, while browsing in the Glyphs palette in InDesign, one day I discovered, way down at the bottom of the listing, that the font I was looking at—Minion Pro—had many type ornaments included with the rest of the font.

5 favorite fonts with hidden type ornaments

The adoption of the Open Type format for fonts in the late 1990s vastly increased the number of glyphs—each letter, punctuation, or any other character in the font—that you could include in the font software. Open Type has become the standard for fonts, and it has lots to recommend it.

Font Extras Are Like Hidden Treasure

Type designers have used this extra capacity for lots of things, mostly to expand the number of accented letters and international symbols available, so Open Type fonts can be used in many languages. You can see some of those characters in the Minion font shown above.

But other designers have been more whimsical, and included type ornaments in their fonts.

Sometimes these are specially designed to match the style of the font itself, sometimes they seem to just be added in.

What makes these unusual is that you don’t even necessarily know you own them. Most ornaments you see are from special, ornament-only fonts like Zapf Dingbats or Linotype Decoration Pi.

These ornaments come to you unannounced, but no less welcome. And because they are right in the font, they are very easy to use.

Here are my 5 favorite fonts with hidden type ornaments. These samples show just a few of the ornaments available, and some fonts have many more than others.

Minion Pro

Fonts-with-ornaments-Minion-ProDesigned by Robert Slimbach in 1990 for Adobe Systems. These naturalistic ornaments match well with the oldstyle design of Minion, and the designer has consciously given them the character of hand-drawn illustrations. They are clean and modern with strong color.

Adobe Caslon Pro

Fonts-with-ornaments-Caslon-ProAdobe Caslon is a variant designed by Carol Twombly and based on William Caslon’s own specimen pages printed between 1734 and 1770. (Wikipedia) The mostly floral ornaments have a uniform color and line weight and can be combined into amazing shapes.

Warnock Pro

Fonts-with-ornaments-Warnock-Pro Designed for Adobe Systems in 2000 by Robert Slimbach. When I discovered these ornaments hiding inside the useful text font Warnock Pro, I was amazed. Since then I’ve used these on numerous books. Most type ornaments are symmetrical, with floral and geometric motifs predominating. But these are something else, and the natural styling and flair they bring to a page of type is delightful.

Zapfino

Fonts-with-ornaments-Zapfino Designed for Linotype by typeface designer Hermann Zapf in 1998. Zapfino is an organic and fluid calligraphic script font that comes with dozens of alternate and “swash” characters so you can really customize it. All the ornaments have the style of pen-drawn illustrations, in keeping with the writing style of calligraphy masters.

Chaparral Pro

Fonts-with-ornaments-Chaparral-Pro Designed for Adobe Systems by Carol Twombly in 1997. As the name implies, Chaparral was intended to be a new kind of typeface. “Like the drought-resistant brush that blooms on the arid coastal range near Twombly’s California home, Chaparral’s highly functional design is surprisingly beautiful.”—Adobe Systems. The ornaments perfectly reflect the same aesthetic, and many are designed to create borders and other typographic effects. Chaparral is the last in a series of incredible typefaces designed by Twombly at Adobe.

Resources

Extra: Free From Myfonts: The fonts in this article will all cost you something, but you can experiment with a font that contains “hidden treasure” in the form of matching ornaments, too. Have a look at Fertigo Pro at Myfonts.com. It’s a capable font that also contains a nice selection of ornaments. And it’s free, just download it. This is a great way to experiment with type ornaments in your own book designs.

David Bergsland, a guest author here, also has a typeface with ornaments included available free of charge on Myfonts.com. Check out Contenu Book Display, one of a family of 8 styles. This one is free and will give you both a lovely typeface and ornaments with which to experiment.

More articles on fonts:
5 Favorite Fonts for Interior Book Design
5 Great Fonts for Book Covers
7 New Typeface Combinations for Book Design

Do you know other fonts with hidden type ornaments? I’d love to hear.

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    { 11 comments… read them below or add one }

    Angela April 1, 2014 at 11:31 am

    Thanks for this great post, Joel. I had recently been rueing the loss of the ornaments in the old multiple master Chaparral I used to use. Lo, upon seeing your post in a google search, I discovered they’re embedded in the open type version I have.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander April 1, 2014 at 12:54 pm

    Hey, that’s great Angela. I remember those multiple masters well. And it’s a real treat when you find a bunch of ornaments hidden deep in a font’s glyph set when you didn’t know they would be there.

    Reply

    Angela April 1, 2014 at 5:01 pm

    That revelation set me to checking all my other Open Type fonts for other hidden treasures. I found some in Adobe Garamond Pro, Cronos Pro, Diavlo, Fertigo Pro, and Letter Gothic Std. Thanks again for sharing!

    Reply

    roe July 11, 2013 at 6:50 pm

    Great stuff! I knew somehow… that those page ornaments were hiding from plain sight lol

    Thanks for sharing to the world!

    Roe

    Reply

    Roger C. Parker April 6, 2012 at 8:01 am

    Dear Joel:
    Great post: a pleasant surprise to start the day; I always like your type features.

    How about following-up with a some illustrated examples of when and how to use ornaments without adding clutter or distraction to book covers and book marketing materials?

    Always something new, thanks!

    Roger

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander April 6, 2012 at 4:40 pm

    Thanks, Roger. That’s a great idea, too, I’ve got a number of books I can show with various placements and uses for these types of ornaments.

    Reply

    London Crockett April 4, 2012 at 6:52 pm

    Adobe Jenso Pro has a nice set of ornamentals included in the glyphs. It’s selection of weights, along with it’s elegent lines make it a favorite book and titling face for me.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander April 5, 2012 at 10:56 am

    Adobe Jenson Pro is one of my all-time favorite text faces, too. Thanks for the tip.

    Reply

    David Bergsland April 2, 2012 at 5:47 am

    My free (on Myfonts) Contenu Book display has a few ornaments.

    Reply

    Michael N. Marcus April 2, 2012 at 2:13 am

    I know you don’t approve of formatting books in MS Word, but those of us who are not ready to use “adult” software like InDesign can still use type ornaments

    Clicking on the “symbols” dropdown menu provides access to a great many “wingdings.” The alphabetical library provides even more choices. Lowly Arial includes a variety of symbols and the add-on AGP has some fleurons.

    MS Word Newbies should spend time exploring all of the faces in the symbols section. This is the source of not just decoration, but also more important symbols like ligatures, musical notes, numbers, fractions, dashes, bullets and non-English alphabets.

    Tip: because the symbols can be enlarged without getting too jagged or fuzzy, they can be used as elements in logos or on posters and signs.

    Michael N. Marcus

    http://www.BookMakingBlog.blogspot.com
    http://www.BookFur.com (information, help and book reviews for authors)
    — Create Better Books, with the Silver Sands Publishing Series: http://www.silversandsbooks.com/booksaboutpublishing.html
    — New: deluxe hardcover edition of “Stories I’d Tell My Children (but maybe not until they’re adults),” http://www.amazon.com/dp/0983057249

    Reply

    Daniel August 23, 2012 at 12:22 am

    Is there anyway to flip the direction of an ornament, either horizontally or vertically, when using MS word?

    Reply

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