Do you know how useful dingbats can be? And no, I’m not talking about any of the empty-headed, silly people you may know. I’m referring to the fonts that have symbols and shapes in place of alphabetical or numeric characters.
At first glance you might dismiss these dingbat fonts as silly, but for the right situations they can be incredibly useful. One of the advantages of working with a dingbat font over regular image icons is that you can very easily adapt their size and color to your needs without having to do any complicated image editing work. Dingbat fonts can also be a more convenient way to access a consistent set of design elements as compared to searching through image libraries.
Check out Nicole’s great tutorial, to see how easy it is to create nice looking graphic elements out of font characters.
Here are a few ways you can make good use of dingbat fonts in your elearning designs, along with a collection of useful dingbats worth considering.
The most common use for dingbat fonts is for creating customized bullets. They are a great way to match the look and feel of your course design. The Wingding fonts that come on most Windows computers are an easy place to start experimenting.
These fonts can be used much as the original typeset dingbat characters were as accents, banners and separators.
Nymphette – shown above
Dingsbums Bats – cool, geometric shapes and arrows.
Split Splat Splodge – has a grungy, splattered effect
Navigational & User Interface Elements or Buttons:
Dingbat fonts are great for creating navigation buttons and other user interface elements. There are a growing number of them that have been created specifically for this purpose.
Web Symbols – show above; a great set for creating custom buttons, etc.
Entypto – a big set of options useful as UI elements.
A pictogram, or pictograph, is graphic that conveys its meaning through its pictorial resemblance to a physical object. Usually stripped to the basic details they are made to be universally understood and often used in road signs, posters, icons and logos.
By combining the right dingbat characters with text and other graphics you can make some really nice creations.
There are even some dingbat characters that can stand on their own as illustrations or graphics, similar to clip art.
So go ahead and browse through some dingbat fonts. You just might be pleasantly surprised at what you discover.
Have you ever used dingbat fonts in any of your projects? We’d love to hear about them. As always, come visit the community to ask questions, share ideas and connect with other elearning professionals from around the world.