We normally use what are called TrueType fonts on Windows machines for everything – whether in applications or when typing a document in Word. However, Windows Vista and above have had a new type of font system called OpenType.
OpenType is a scalable font format, built to be compatible with TrueType, but having many advanced typographic features like:
- Numeric styling
- Fraction Styling
- Style “sets”
- Contextual Alternates
You can read about the full specification of features here. However, the strange part has been that you couldn’t use the OpenType features in your Word documents… That is, till now. Word 2010 does have the ability to use the OpenType features in any document.
To do this, you will need to use an OpenType font. Some of these are Calibri, Cambria and the other “C”-fonts. But to really see the power of OpenType you need to use Gabriola. This is a script like font that has a number of cool features to it. Open Word 2010, change the font to Gabriola and add some text to the document. At first glance, the text looks pretty normal.
Select the text and press <Ctrl>-D to enter the font properties dialog. Click on the Advanced tab to reach the OpenType settings. The easiest way to see the changes is to change the “Stylistic sets” value. Change it to say “5” for now and see what happens:
You can now see that there are some nice effects starting to show up. Crank up the value to say 7.
The text effects become even more pronounced. You can also experiment with the other settings to see other features of the font. For instance, the Number forms for “Lining” and “OldStyle” change how numbers are shown like this:
The Contextual Alternates allow you to let characters change according to their relative position to other characters around them. Take a look at the “D” in the word “different” being typed below:
As you can see, the way that the character “d” is drawn changes each time surrounding characters change. You can turn this off or on if you want.
There are a ton of other features available in OpenType fonts as well and combinations of the settings can help you create extremely rich looking typography.
Do try out the OpenType features and with different fonts to see the effect of all the different settings you can do on them. You can add a ton of richness to your documents this way.
Here’s a small tip: If you’re using Outlook 2010, you can use these features when creating a new mail as well!