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Make optimal use of fonts in Microsoft Word

Posted: Wed Aug 11, 2004 11:44 am
by Erwin Denissen
Most Word users probably never heard of Unicode characters, font embedding and kerning. This article explains these topics and shows you how to apply these features to your documents.

Insert Unicode Characters
Although a single font can contain up to 65536 characters, only a few characters can be inserted into a document by pressing a single key on your keyboard. Use Insert Symbols, Windows Character Map, the decimal input method or the hexadecimal entry method to add characters not directly available on your keyboard.

Word has a Symbol window that can be used to add characters. Select Symbol from the Insert menu. Select the font you want to use and locate the character you want to insert. Press the Insert button. Press the Cancel button after you have added the desired characters.

With Windows Character Map you can insert special characters into your document. From your Start menu mouse over Programs, Accessories, and System Tools, and then click on Character Map. If you don't see the Character Map listed in the System Tools, you need to install it or use one of the method below to insert characters. In the Character Map select the appropriate font. Click the letter or symbol you need and click the Select button. Add more characters if needed and finally click the Copy button. Now go to your document and select Paste from the Edit menu.

To add characters through the decimal input method hold down the Alt key, and then, by using the numeric keypad, type 0 (zero) followed by the corresponding decimal character code. Make sure NUM LOCK is on. This method can only add characters in the 32..255 code range.

Another way to input Unicode characters is the hexadecimal entry method that works with Microsoft Word 2002 and higher. Basically you type a character's hexadecimal code (in ASCII), making corrections if needed, and then type ALT+X. This will replace the hexadecimal code by the corresponding Unicode character. The same key combination ALT-X can be used to reveal a characters code. If the hexadecimal code is preceded by one or more hexadecimal digits, you need to "select" the code so that the preceding hexadecimal characters aren't included in the code. The code can range up to the value 0x10FFFF, which is the highest character in the 17 planes of Unicode.

When a font doesn’t contain a character you will probably see a square box representing the missing character. Use the Font Creator Program to add characters to your fonts.

Embed Fonts
When you have used uncommon fonts in your document, chances are big your document looks different when others open it on their computers. This usually happens when you have used fonts that are only installed on your machine. When your document is opened on another computer, Word will use other fonts (this is known as font substitution). Unfortunately this will only imitate the document's original appearance, resulting in disrupted document formatting. In order to prevent this problem Word (and other word processing applications like Macromedia Flash and Adobe Acrobat) allow you to embed fonts in the document.

Both TrueType and OpenType fonts contain an embedding level that states the licensing rights related to font embedding. Based on this level, Word determines how documents can be used on computers where these fonts are not installed. Some fonts do not allow font embedding, others only allow for print and preview. Fortunately most fonts have set their embedding level to editable, so others are allowed to edit the document. Finally some fonts even allow for permanent installation on other computers. The Font Creator Program will help you determine the embedding level.

To embed fonts in your document, choose Options from the Tools menu and then select the Save tab. Here you need to select the Embed TrueType Fonts check box. Embedding fonts in your document will obviously increase the document’s size. To save space also select the Embed characters in use only check box, so only the actual font characters used in your document are embedded.

Use Kerning
Some fonts look awful (specially) at higher point sizes because some characters might look too far apart. Don’t give up on those fonts too soon, as kerning will most likely solve that problem. Kerning adjusts the amount of space between two characters. A good font will have built into it a list of kerning pairs. Use the Font Creator Program to view and edit these kerning pairs.

To enable kerning first select the text that needs kerning. On the Format menu, click Font, and then click the Character Spacing tab. Select the Kerning for fonts check box and then enter the point size in the Points and above box.

I might add some images for clarification to this article soon.

Posted: Wed Aug 11, 2004 3:44 pm
by Bhikkhu Pesala
To insert Unicode characters in programs other than Word one can use the freeware program Babelmap. This is very similar in function to character map, but supports the entire Unicode range, and has useful search functions to find the character that you need.

Posted: Thu Aug 12, 2004 8:01 pm
by Jowaco
Dave Crosby gave me the following URL for the SIL organisation. It is an encyclopedic collection of font-related information. It is an absorbing site with much relevant information on the subject of Unicode. ... ttoollinks

From this site a link, choosing Unicode in the menu in the left pane, takes you to a page where I obtained excellent macros for MS Word 2000. These macros automate some of the techniques which are described in the above article. Well worth having. There are also macros for Word 97. Just navigate down the main pane to the last entry in the first lot of articles and descriptions.

The URL to download the macros directly is: ... acrosIntro

The comprehensive website Home page on fonts, in general, and Unicode, in particular, is: ... at_id=Home


Posted: Fri Apr 04, 2008 1:42 pm
by Erwin Denissen
The easiest way to insert Unicode characters in other programs is to use MainType. First select the required font, and then from the character grid select the character you want to use. Right-click on that character and select "Copy to Clipboard". In Word or any other application select "Paste".


Some people might prefer to use the "Add to Background Application" available from the same context menu.

Another option is to make MainType add a character when you double-click it. You can enabled that through the Options dialog (Tools -> Options -> Characters).