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CorelDRAW and Special Characters

CorelDRAW and Special Characters

© 2005 by Foster D. Coburn III. All Rights Reserved.

There are a handful of questions that CorelDRAW users have been asking for years. I’ve decided to address one of them in this tutorial as I see it on a very regular basis.

“I purchased the hard copy of the clip art catalog – and I’ll be darned if I can find those arrows at the beginning right behind all the fonts. It appears they are in a folder called symbols.”

The first thing we need to learn is that those “symbols” are really fonts. Once we know that, we’ll talk about installing and using them.

Installing the Symbol Fonts

OK, I already told you that the “symbols” listed in the clip art manual are fonts. Some people attempt to import the font files into CorelDRAW and soon learn that doesn’t work very well. They work like any other font and they need to be installed into Windows. I’ve covered fonts, font installation and font management before so I won’t repeat all the instructions here. One of the keys is to use the Bitstream Font Navigator program that is supplied with CorelDRAW. Details on how to install and manage fonts can be found in the Fonts, Font Management, Typography and OpenType Success Kit.

Using the Symbol Fonts and Special Characters

Once you have the fonts installed, then you actually have to find out how to get at all those graphics hidden in them. The best way to do this is with the Insert Character Docker.

Note: This Docker has been known by other names in versions prior to CorelDRAW 12.


The tutorial on this page is more than a decade old and doesn’t include information on what can be done with OpenType in CorelDRAW X6 and higher. You’ll find that information in the Fonts, Font Management, Typography and OpenType Success Kit shown below.
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Fonts, Font Management, Typography and OpenType Success Kit Download

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Fonts, Font Management, Typography and OpenType Success Kit

The Fonts, Font Management, Typography and OpenType Success Kit combines a 28 page full color training manual in PDF format along with font utilities and more than 500 fonts to help you keep your fonts managed and your type looking great.

Note: All content is designed to work for users of CorelDRAW X5, X6 and X7. OpenType was added in CorelDRAW X6, so that information will obviously not apply to CorelDRAW X5.

Subjects covered:

  • Font Formats
  • Choosing a Font Format
  • Pros and Cons of Free Fonts
  • Font Management
  • Cleaning Up Fonts
  • Adding Fonts
  • Renaming Fonts
  • Bitstream Font Navigator and Font Expert
  • Typography Terms and Tips
  • OpenType Features
  • Tips for More Attractive Documents

Extras included:

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figure01Since the name of this Docker has changed a number of times and its location in the menus has also been elusive, we’ll stick with a shortcut key to make it appear. Press Ctrl-F11 to bring up the Docker shown at right.

At the top of the Docker is a drop-down list of all the fonts you can access. By default this list will contain every single installed font on your system. If you are simply looking for the “symbol” fonts, then the list can be pretty long. Right-click on the drop-down and you can choose what type of fonts will be displayed. If you only want symbol fonts, uncheck the choices for TrueType fonts and Type 1 fonts. Don’t worry too much about the Code Page drop-down. This only affects fonts that have multiple code pages and rarely would it affect a symbol font.

Once you have the desired font chosen, the main part of the window will show each of the “characters” available in the font. For symbol fonts, these are typically simple images. Text fonts will show each of the letters in the font. Scroll through the list and find the symbol or character you want. Then click and drag it onto your drawing page. You can also press the Insert button if you desire.

figure02When the character is dropped onto the page, it will no longer be a “font character” but rather a graphic shape with the default outline and fill. Typically users have this set as a black hairline outline with no fill. Go ahead and fill and outline however you like. The size of the graphic is based on the size set in the Docker. This defaults to 2 inches and you’ll find that the graphic is almost always smaller. Most likely it is about 2/3 of the size chosen in the Docker. In short, this is how fonts work in Windows. No big deal as you can resize to any size you want. At left are two examples of characters placed on the page and decorated with fills and outlines.

Now let’s talk about using this for “special characters”. I live next to a street with a Spanish name. Of course it has to have an accent character in the name so that it is hard to type accurately. Anybody know the keystroke for an n tilde? Me neither.

figure03Type the text you want and leave the cursor at the position where you want the accented character to appear. Find the character in the Insert Character Docker (in the correct font). Drag and drop the character on top of the blinking cursor. Right before you let go, it should look something like the image at right. When you let go, the character is dropped into the text string. Note that you can drop any character from any font and drop it into any other block of text. So if you want a phone graphic next to a phone number, no problem!

Below is the result after dropping the character. If you don’t use these accented characters on a regular basis, it sure is easier to do it this way than to remember the keystrokes.

figure04For those who use a lot of foreign characters, the Code Page drop-down can also come in quite handy. It allows you to access alternate character sets stored in some fonts. Keep in mind that very few fonts have these extended character sets so you’ll have to choose fonts carefully if you wish to use this feature.

In Closing

Now the next time you look in the clip art manual, you should be able to find everything. Just remember that the simple black and white images are fonts and must be used through the Insert Character Docker. Not only do you have access to the special symbol characters, but also to the extended character set of fonts. This makes it easier to bring in accented and other characters whose keystrokes are difficult to remember.

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