Apple Chancery Mystery Glyphs?

Lexophile's picture

First of all I apologize if this isn't quite the appropriate forum, but I'm hoping someone will be generous enough to be patient with me! I also apologize if this was brought up before; I searched and could find nothing so please point me in the right direction if it has!

I'm fairly new to typography and design. To make a long story short, I was digging around the glyph palette of Apple Chancery and stumbled across these:

My name's Alexa. These look to me like my initials, so pardon me but I suppose I've become a little spooked!

A. Are these specific glyphs with a meaning or just swash caps?

B. In InDesign at least, when I hover over these glyphs in the palette, they're named "null". A lot of characters are, actually. Is there a way to identify these in the future besides posting them here?

Please guide—or shove if you'd rather—me in the right direction. Thank-you!

Mark Simonson's picture

They're swash variants of standard characters. The reason they show up in the glyph palette as "null" is because there are no standard Unicode values for swash characters, and names are not required by the TrueType format.

Lexophile's picture

So those are just swashified A and L glyphs?

I feel like a child learning how babies are made.

Mark Simonson's picture

They are swash versions of "a" and "l" (lowercase L). If you use the font in a "Cocoa" app, such as TextEdit, open the Fonts window and select "Typography" from the little "gear" pop-up near the bottom left, you can see that there are several swash and alternate versions:

If you enable the Character Viewer (from the Keyboard preferences in the System Preferences app), you can see all the different forms available for each basic character (such as lowercase L):

But, since Apple Chancery is an AAT (Apple Advanced Typography) font, not an OpenType font, InDesign doesn't recognize any of this. AAT is an extension of TrueType that preceded OpenType. It can do similar things (like swashes and alternates), but only works on Macs. It's probably because it's not cross-platform compatible that Adobe doesn't do much to support it in InDesign and their other apps.

However, you can use the Character Viewer to insert these special characters into an InDesign document.

Lexophile's picture

Well I certainly didn't even know that about text/edit, thank-you! That's useful. Interestingly though on my system that particular glyph doesn't show up as an alternate for L. It does for the A. I'll just file that under software oddities and try to forget about it though.

Thanks much for entertaining a possibly over-enthusiastic student digging around in the character palettes and such!

Mark Simonson's picture

It's an alternate for "l" (lowercase L), not "L" (uppercase L). That may be why it's not showing up on your system.

In any case, any characters you see in InDesign's glyph palette can be inserted into your text at the cursor position by double-clicking in the glyph palette.

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