There’s a font for just about every occasion and eventuality, but what about those times when you need something a little different? Windows includes the Private Character Editor which can be used to create your own fonts, or just individual characters and symbols.
Private Character Editor is not a new tool – it has been available for many years now – but it is something that is often overlooked.
It could be used to create your own personal font from scratch – although you would need a great deal of patience for this – but it is probably best suited to creating custom characters for logos and symbols you would like to be able to type easily time and time again.
Find the Tool
You would be forgiven for not having spotted Private Character Editor in the past; it is not a tool that is particularly well advertised in Windows. In Windows 8, you can just hit the Windows key and start typing ‘private’ – it will appear very quickly in the list of apps.
Windows 7 users can look in the Start menu in the System Tools section of the Accessories group.
Select one of the empty boxes in the grid that’s displayed and click OK.
You will then be presented with what looks like a very basic image editor. This is where you will set about the task of designing your own characters.
You could go as far as creating your own font – if you were very patient – but it probably better suited to create your own special symbols, logos and characters that can then easily be used in documents.
Design Your Characters
There is nothing to stop you from starting from scratch and designing your characters from the ground up. Private Character Editor gives you a basic set of tools – pen, eraser, filled and outlined oval and rectangle tools – but be prepared for this to take a little while.
To make things easier, you might like to work with an existing character from a system font you already have installed. Click the Window menu and select Reference.
You can choose which typeface you would like to work with by clicking the Font button at the bottom of the screen. You can then select the character you would like to use as the basis for your own and then click OK to load it into the editor.
The selected character is loaded in a separate window so you can use it as a guide, but it can also be copied and pasted into the editing window.
Activate one of the selection tools towards the bottom of the left hand toolbar, draw around the character in the right hand Reference window, press Ctrl+C, move to the Edit window and press Ctrl+V.
Design the character you want using the tools at your disposal.
Save & Use Your Characters
Whether you have started with a blank canvas or you are editing an existing character, the next steps are the same.
When you’re happy with what you have created, click the File menu and select Font Links and then click Yes. Keep the ‘Link with All Fonts’ option selected and click OK.
There are various ways in which you can enter your newly created character into documents. The first is to make use of Windows’ Character Map, but in Microsoft Word it is possible to type the hex code for a character and then press Alt+X to convert it into the associated symbol.
Mark Wilson is a software fiend and a fan of the new, shiny and intriguing. Never afraid to get his hands dirty with some full-scale geekery, he’s always trying out the latest apps, hacks and tweaks. He can be found on Twitter and Google+.
- Published 05/20/13