TypeTalk: You Dingbat!

TypeTalk is a regular blog on typography. Post your questions and comments by clicking on the Comments icon above. If Ilene answers your question in the blog, you’ll receive one Official Creativepro.com T-Shirt!
Q. Could you give any tips on using ornamental/decorative/dingbat fonts as art elements?
A. I’m so glad you asked, since many designers are unaware of how much you can do (and how creative you can be) with non-typographic fonts and characters.
You will find non-typographic images in stand-alone fonts that can consist of dingbats, ornaments, and borders, and in design fonts, which are like small illustrations. Sometimes ornament fonts are part of a type family, such as ITC Bodoni Ornaments, which go with the ITC Bodoni family of typefaces. Non-typographic characters may also be within a typeface. For instance, Adobe Caslon Pro, Zinjaro, ITC Rennie Mackintosh Initials & Ornaments, and ITC Golden Cockerel all contain decorative goodies.
Background patterns using ITC Japanese Garden.

Images from DF Naturals, ITC Professional Connections, and ITC Golden Cockerel Initials and Ornaments.

Bullets set in Zapf Dingbats, speech balloon set in Carr Balloons, caricature set in DF Expressions, and text set in Linotype Glypha.

Here are some of the many uses of these characters:

  • borders
  • background pattern
  • bulleted points
  • paragraph separators
  • end marks
  • numbered points (some have decorative numbers)
  • decorative elements
  • logos and icons
  • illustrations for invitations, business cards, articles, and brochures
  • initials
  • thought bubbles and starbursts

A great way to start your search for these illustrative fonts is to use the keyword search available on many foundry web sites. Start with a search for “ornaments”, and go from there.
Love type? Want to know more? Ilene Strizver conducts her acclaimed Gourmet Typography workshops internationally. For more information on attending one or bringing it to your company, organization, or school, go to her site, call The Type Studio at 203-227-5929, or email Ilene at [email protected]. Sign up for her e-newsletter at www.thetypestudio.com.

Ilene Strizver is a noted typographic educator, author, designer and founder of The Type Studio in Westport, Connecticut. Her book, Type Rules! The designer’s guide to professional typography, is now in its 4th edition.