ITC Zapf Dingbats is a collection of symbols for use with a wide range of contemporary typefaces. The ITC Zapf Dingbats font family contains useful bullets, stars, arrows and figures in circles.
Hermann Zapf is a famous and prolific typographer who designed the Palatino® and Optima® typefaces, as well as the beautiful Zapfino®. He created a dingbat collection of around 1,000 images in the mid-1970s, of which International Typeface Corporation (ITC) selected 360 and released them in 1978 as Zapf Dingbats. It became enormously popular, even among people with little experience with, or knowledge of, typefaces and printing protocols, when it became one of the standard typefaces included with the Apple LaserWriter® in 1985.
Zapf Essentials® is a related collection of six dingbat typeface released in 2002, consisting of different families of related glyphs. Two consist of various arrows, another consists of communication symbols and devices such as pointing fingers and other communication devices, and a fourth is comprised of office symbols such as pens, currency and clocks. The final two typefaces are markers, including boxes, circles, hearts, crosses and others, and ornamentals like flowers and stars.
ITC Zapf Dingbat and other dingbat typefaces are continually updated with new glyphs to keep current with trends on modern technology – cell phones, for instance, are commonly found in modern dingbat character sets.
Dingbats are full typeface glyph sets which, when selected in digital typesetting, occupy the slots normally used for letters or numerals. Thus, when Zapf Dingbats is selected as the typeface, pressing letter or number keys on a computer’s keyboard will produce a display consisting of the particular symbols assigned to those keys.
Because different typefaces can routinely be combined in desktop publishing, the multitude of glyphs included in Zapf Dingbats can be incorporated into text – from arrows to pointing fingers to starbursts, for whatever purpose the author desires. Zapf Dingbats are routinely used in bulleted lists and to highlight important points. Some authors use Zapf Dingbats to make editorial comments, such as smiley faces and other such whimsical glyphs. A notable, if extreme, use of dingbats to make an editorial point occurred in 1994, when Ray Gun magazine typeset an entire interview in Zapf Dingbats because the editor thought it was so boring.