Making Do When Accented Characters are Missing

You flow in your text, and then you notice something odd. Not all the characters made it. In their place, a disruptive, boxy, Not Defined character.
Yes, it’s a problem you generally get only when the fonts you’re working with contain limited standard (non-Pro) character sets. The best way to deal with it is often always to upgrade to a font with a Pro character set, but, when you’ve got to work with what you have, you make do. In case you didn’t notice the blips in the text above, they’re marked below:Making-Do-When-Missing-Accented-Characters-3
In this example, the accented character that’s missing up top is a lowercase a with macron. If we look in the Glyph palette, there’s a macron waiting there for us, all by itself. We type in the a, then double click the macron to insert it after.
Put the cursor in between the two, and kern them closer until the macron is in place. Simple. Now do it for all accented characters that are missing. Now replace all instances of the newly fabricated characters with their replacements.

When is this a bad solution?

Almost always. If, for example, it’s a print piece and you’ve got control of the entire process, and the substitutions are relatively few, go for it. Otherwise, you run the risk of having to make and remake these fixes with every revision’s reflow of the text. And on the web, in a PDF or whatever, indexing engines will choke on your fake characters.

Say it’s for print only, isn’t there a smarter workflow than the above?

Potentially, yes. You could flow all your text in, set it in a system font so that all characters are represented, make that into a paragraph style, and carefully set up some GREP styles that substitute the missing characters with their tightly-tracked replacement characters (which each have character styles applied to them). Yeah, or something like that. It gets kind of dicey applying styles on top of styles. And your spacing is bound to be thrown off slightly on the right side of the substituted character.

When will I most likely need to pull a stunt like this?

Proper nouns, such as author names, are often the sneakiest kinds of information that come bearing requirements for glyphs that even your Pro fonts may not have in stock.

We’ll wrap here. Thanks for reading everyone. What questions am I missing? And thanks also to Century Expanded Std for its lead role in today’s story, as well as a thanks to Peter Verheul’s Versa Sans. Using Type continues here Thursday.

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