Utilizing OpenType Features in Any Software

Learn how to leverage OpenType features and access special characters in your preferred software. OpenType builds upon its predecessor, TrueType, retaining its basic structure while introducing intricate data structures for controlling typographic behavior. It’s important to note that OpenType is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation.



Accessing OpenType Features in AI/PS (Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop)

In Adobe Illustrator, you can utilize the OpenType panel by navigating to (Window > Type > OpenType). This panel allows you to specify how you want to apply alternate characters in OpenType fonts. For instance, you can choose to use standard ligatures in both new and existing text.


1. Standard Ligatures 2. Contextual Alternates 3. Discretionary Ligatures 4. Swash 5. Stylistic Alternates 6. Titling Alternates 7. Ordinals 8. Fractions 9. Stylistic Sets 10. Panel Menu 11. Figure Type 12. Character Position


In Adobe Photoshop, the Character Panel can be accessed via (Type > Panel > Character Panel).

Please keep in mind that OpenType fonts vary significantly in the features they offer. Not all options in the OpenType panel are available in every font. You can examine the characters in a font using the Glyphs panel.


How to Access Alternates/Special Characters in Adobe Illustrator/Photoshop

Typefaces comprise numerous characters beyond what’s visible on your keyboard. Depending on the font, these characters may include ligatures, fractions, swashes, ornaments, ordinals, titling and stylistic alternates, superior and inferior characters, old-style figures, and lining figures. A glyph represents a specific form of a character. For instance, in certain fonts, the capital letter “A” may appear in various forms, such as swash and small caps.

There are three methods for inserting alternate glyphs:

  • The Selection in-context menu allows you to view and insert glyphs available for a selected character. When working on a type object, selecting a character enables you to quickly view alternate glyphs in the in-context menu. Simply click on the alternate glyph to replace the character with it.
  • The Glyphs panel (Window > Type > Glyphs) permits you to view and insert glyphs from any typeface.


You can use this panel to explore the glyphs in a font and insert specific ones into your document.

1. Show Menu 2. Font Family 3. Font Style 4. Zoom Buttons

  • The OpenType panel enables you to define rules for using glyphs. For example, you can specify that you want to use ligatures, titling characters, and fractions within a given text block. Utilizing the OpenType panel simplifies the process compared to inserting glyphs individually and ensures a more consistent outcome. However, please note that this panel is compatible only with OpenType fonts.


Accessing Alternates in Any Software Using PUA Encoded Fonts

PUA stands for “Private Use Areas.” When a font is PUA encoded, it means that you can access all special characters, including flourishes and swirly lines, on both Windows and Mac systems, and you can incorporate them into various applications. Common methods for accessing PUA encoded characters include Windows Character Map and Mac Font Book

For detailed instructions on accessing PUA Encoded Fonts, you can refer to this link.

Utilizing OpenType Features in Any Software

You also have the option to access OpenType features in virtually any software. Detailed information can be found on this website.

Use Ligature in Canva

1.Open Canva in your browser and click on “Brand.”


2.Then, upload the font.


3.Choose the font you desire.


4.Then, click the upload button.


5.After it’s uploaded, make sure the font is selected.


6.Then, click the “Font Book” icon.


7.Copy the ligature you want to apply; you can use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+C.


8.Then, paste it into Canva.


9.The ligature has now been applied to your font. Congratulations!


Use Ligature in Microsoft Word

1.Search for the Text Effect and Typography tools.


2.Look for Ligatures and select All Ligatures.


3.Congratulations, Ligatures have been applied to your font.


If you’re still confused by the explanation above, you can watch the steps more clearly in this video.


Thank you,

Sensatype Studio