We Heart Dingbats
This article originally appeared in InDesign Magazine #36, June/July 2010. Subscribe now!
"Dingbat" is the default term to describe fonts comprised of symbols, ornaments, or pictures. Here's how I break them down:
Decorative elements that function as punctuation, such as a bullet to start a list or a checkmark to indicate a task:
Symbols that embody a person, place, thing, or concept in a single element, like map markers or informational symbols. Often called Symbol or Pi fonts:
Ornamental flourishes that embellish text. Usually incorporated into the font family as Ornaments or Extras:
Illustrations that can stand on their own, like little pieces of clip art. These are often categorized as picture fonts:
It's the illustration category that provokes the strongest reactions and gives dingbats a bad reputation in some type-abiding societies. Somebody call the serif!
To see many, many more examples of all categories and to download free dingbat fonts, click the image below to read the article as a PDF: