5 Favorite Fonts with Hidden Type Ornaments

by | Apr 2, 2012

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

Designed 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

Adobe 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

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.


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

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.


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.

tbd advanced publishing starter kit


  1. Bill Peschel

    “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.”

    When I click on the link, I see a $7.77 price tag for Contenu Book Display, even though his text does say “Contenu Book Display is a free gift to users of the Contenu Family of fonts (though I have made it free for everyone).”

    Am I missing something?

    • David Bergsland

      Display is the ninth font, which you get free when you buy the 8-font family. It used to be a free font, but that was years ago when it was first released. The best deal now is on my Website—just under $50 for the 17 font Contenu-Buddy Book Design group

      • Bill Peschel

        Ah, thanks for clarifying.

  2. Chris Maiocca


    Sorry, but when I go to the Glyphs pallet I do not see ornaments in the drop down on several of these…

    Any thoughts?


    • Joel Friedlander

      Which fonts are you having that problem with, Chris?

      • Chris Maiocca

        I was unable to see any Ornaments for Zapfino in the dropdown :)

        While I have you Joel – what are your thoughts on Warnock Pro for a History Text?

        Many thanks!

        • Joel Friedlander

          Chris, I’m out of the office at the moment but will check Zapfino when I get back. Warnock Pro is an excellent book font I’ve used on numerous books, and set properly should work well for a history book.

  3. Angela

    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.

    • Joel Friedlander

      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.

      • Angela

        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!

  4. roe

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

    Thanks for sharing to the world!


  5. Roger C. Parker

    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!


    • Joel Friedlander

      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.

  6. London Crockett

    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.

    • Joel Friedlander

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

  7. David Bergsland

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

  8. Michael N. Marcus

    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

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

    • Daniel

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



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