4 Step Guide to Using Glyphs

7 Jun

Will a bullet, em dash, or trademark symbol really affect the success of your design work?  While these may seem to be small details, the quality and professionalism of your work can suffer if you use glyphs incorrectly, or even worse fail to use them when they are needed.

1.) Know Your Content and Research Your Type Choices

To avoid mishaps, it is key for designers to familiarize themselves with both the content they will be working with, as well as the advantages and limitations of potential typeface selections. When considering a typeface it is important to know what that typeface’s glyph palette has to offer. If content calls for symbols or characters that are not available in a particular glyph palette then that typeface may not be a good fit, and it is best to know this up front before creating the need for rework.

2.) Double Check the Meaning/Purpose of a Glyph When Unsure

Particularly when using glyphs for punctuation or accents, make sure you are choosing the right glyph to fulfill your purpose. Sometimes the differences are very subtle, but errors will stick out to a discerning eye. There are several online resources that can provide you with definitions and appropriated uses; even a simple Google search can do the trick.


Hyphen ( – ) A hyphen is used to separate the words in a compound adjective, verb, or adverb.

En Dash ( – ) En Dash is used to express a range of values or a distance

Em Dash ( — ) Em Dash is used to set off parenthetical elements, which are abrupt.

Learn More Here

3.) Use Decorative Glyphs Sparingly

Decorative glyphs are commonly used as entry points on a page, or in place of bullet points. If misused, decorative glyphs can be overwhelming and distracting. When used, the frequency per page should be minimal and the glyphs should mesh well with the imagery, style, and type on the page.

If considering a decorative glyph, remember you are not limited to a glyph palette. A small, simplistic image that is consistent with your design can also work.

4.) Avoid mismatching Typefaces

If a particular typeface is not otherwise used is your design, you should avoid choosing glyphs from the typeface’s glyph palette. This ensures consistency or appearance and a visually appealing flow.


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