InDesign Shortcuts: Special Characters
by Ilene Strizver
Setting type frequently requires the use of symbols, typographically appropriate punctuation and invisible characters that are not easily found on the keyboard. Adobe® InDesign® CS3 has come to the rescue by collecting many of these characters and putting them in an easily-accessible flyout palette off the main menu. This handy palette saves you from having to memorize dozens of hand-contorting key combinations and from looking through hundreds – sometimes thousands – of characters in the Glyph palette.
So where is this mysterious list of shortcuts? Toward the bottom of the Type menu, there is a submenu, Insert Special Character, which lists five submenus. Here are some of the most useful and commonly-accessed characters from these secondary submenus:
Type > Insert Special Character > Symbols>
- Bullet Character
- Copyright Symbol
- Paragraph Symbol
- Registered Trademark Symbol
- Section Symbol
- Trademark Symbol
Type > Insert Special Character > Hyphens and Dashes>
- Em Dash
- En Dash
- Discretionary Hyphen
- Nonbreaking Hyphen (The insertion of this invisible character prevents unwanted word breaks.)
The following shortcuts call for a bit of explanation. The first four are smart quotes, also called curly or typographer’s quotes. Although smart quotes are the default preference in InDesign, you might still get dumb quotes in your copy if you cut and paste copy containing dumb quotes, or if you place copy with dumb quotes and don’t select the option, Use Typographer’s Quotes.
The last two refer to straight quotes, which in digital typography are most commonly used as inch and foot marks. The last one, which Adobe identifies as “apostrophe,” refers to the old-fashioned straight quotes that were used as an apostrophe on typewriters. However, since most fonts have true typographer’s quotes, only use this last one as a foot mark.
Type > Insert Special Character > Quotation Marks >
- Double Left Quotation Marks
- Double Right Quotation Marks
- Single Left Quotation Mark
- Single Right Quotation Mark
- Straight Double Quotation Marks (commonly used as a inch mark)
- Straight Single Quotation Mark (commonly used as a foot mark)
Although these shortcuts require a bit of in-depth menu navigation, they provide easy access to these frequently-used characters and can be a real timesaver.
- Editor’s Note: Ilene Strizver, founder of The Type Studio, is a typographic consultant, designer and writer specializing in all aspects of typographic communication. She conducts Gourmet Typography workshops internationally. Read more about typography in her latest literary effort, Type Rules! The designer's guide to professional typography, 3rd edition, published by Wiley & Sons, Inc. This article was commissioned and approved by Monotype Imaging Inc.