Using Emoji Fonts in Affinity Publisher

Play this game I collaborated on here. I go by bytedesigning in other circles.

Why use Glyphs and What are Glyphs?

Won’t it be nice if you were designing a project and decided you wanted to use an icon or symbol instead of typing out a word (to save space or improve understanding, etc) perhaps an icon or emoji for a flower(🌷)?

This is where software that support’s font glyphs really shines. While fonts like these are often rereferred to as decorative fonts or image based fonts they aren’t always. They may just be regular fonts with added characters, symbols, or ligatures. What are ligatures you may ask? Ligatures are combinations of letters that result in a fancy and stylish version when used together, they also reduce the space of two characters into one.

These two letters are combined to form a ligature and new glyph

The most common ligature you likely use everyday is the ampersand (&) this symbol is the Latin conjunctive word et (e + t) which basically translates to “and”.

How Do I Get Glyphs?

I already wrote a brief post earlier about different font file types. This is important because I’ll be focusing on the OTF file type, a font type that allows the use of emoji’s because of the powerful glyphs support. TTF and PSF has very limited support for extra characters like glyphs and while currently Photoshop and other Adobe software support SVG type fonts they have numerous downsides such as scaling and resolution support issues – to use a “safe” font that does not suffer these problems I stick to OTF. Due to TrueType being most compatible most fonts are still being created in ttf and the largest in the world – Code2000 (20 years old now and now abandoned) is still a great starting point for emoji fonts particularly for kaomoji later referenced in this post. Code2000 even includes unusual glyphs for Klingon and Cirth and others. In total the code2000+ fonts have around 90,000 glyphs all created as far as I know by James Kass.

Affinity software, Adobe software and most other software that supports glyphs works well with OTF and such is a safe bet. So if you are looking for good glyph fonts look for OTF & TT fonts for the best range of characters.

Where can I get an emoji font?

While currently emoji fonts are limited in the sense there are not many fully supported fonts released for free almost every operating system (OS) at this point uses a custom one. To see every OS system emoji font you can check here and compare them at Emojipedia.

If you want to download an emoji font I suggest Google’s emoji font Noto (Noto Emoji) or OpenMoji (Despite those both being TTF). Most other emoji fonts don’t seem to have a lot of support right now…

You may find copying this symbol into a text box doesn’t work though and ask yourself why not? It works on Firefox or Microsoft Edge or Google Chrome etc. There are two reasons it won’t properly work.

You see that square🔲? That is the cat symbol when copied. It does not render properly.

Why Fonts Won’t Render

Here is the cat emoji working correctly in Noto Emoji

There are two basic reasons a font will not render.

  1. You did not install the font or you did not select the font when typing.
  2. The font does not have a glyph for that symbol.
  3. Extremely rare but I have a third reason, corruption to the font. I’ve been able to fix this by re-exporting or changing the font to OTF using software such as FontForge. This was the case for a font where select characters would not show such as !#@ etc. I may later create a tutorial on troubleshooting fonts.

How to Set up Glyphs in Affinity Publisher

First step is selecting the correct font, after selecting your text tool of choice change the font.

Notice has MS Reference has noticeable renderer errors? That’s because of how they set up their font formatting.
To be able to view all the glyph options in a font go to View > Studio > Glyph Browser
Glyph Browser

From here you can search for emoji’s try typing in “cat”, you should see a range of cat emoji’s popping up. Unfortunately, it does not support emoji search so pasting 🐈 into the search bar will not result in it finding the cat emoji. You will notice recent emoji’s are collected at the bottom of the glyph, if you use a particular font often that will also show there.

Anyway, that is the basics, good luck on future projects!

Extra Tips & Questions

Can I use windows & Mac Emoji’s?

With windows you can hold the windows key + (.) period key to open the emoji window, just click an emoji to paste, it looks weird but converts over correctly if you click on the text area, it should convert over if supported. It can get a little finicky, but I was able to convert window symbols into the noto font this way.

There is something similar you can do with mac that is along the same lines…

Does this work with Japanese kaomoji?

Yes, **✿❀ kaomoji ❀✿** works fine with this, also long as the font supports all the same characters.

ʕ •ᴥ•ʔ Bear Kaomoji

Does this allow for cool color combo’s?

No, this font is treated like normal text and that all you can do is change the text color like normal. You can always convert the text into a shape and recolor it if you prefer.

You can still do quite a lot by just being able to recolor.

Why not use dingbat fonts?

You can, this just gives you another option. Dingbat fonts like Entypo are really limited though.

What fonts do you recommend again?

Noteable mentions

  • Segoe UI font (Microsoft)
  • Firefox emoji (Very dated)
  • Emoji One… That is a complicated one but you may find an old version floating around. At one point it was FOSS but no more.

Understanding Typography For Your Project

Understanding a little about fonts and typography can go a long way in describing how you think you text should be handled. Typography is often used to connect the reader to the words, and is important when thinking about the design and what you want to emphasize. Here is a quick overview of of some typography terms to get you started.

First what is a font?

A font is a graphical representation of text that can include letters, symbols, sizes, styles and sometimes even color. Fonts are stored on a computer and allow you to change how your text looks.

Before fonts were stored on a computer they were made of metal and were used to print text and other symbols on a page. A font was composed of sorts or metal pieces placed in a line on a composing stick to create sentences.

Here is an image of an H sort

A collection of fonts is called a typeface or font family. Below is an example of different Imprint fonts in the Imprint typeface. Some Imprint font examples would include Imprint Regular, Imprint Italic, Imprint Bold, Imprint Shadowed and Imprint Shadowed Italic.

Font types

There are a variety of types of fonts out there. Here is a starting point for understanding some main differences, this can be split up further into another 15 categories, but the below should be enough for you to grasp differences in type.

  • Script – Personal Handwriting
  • Decorative – Oddball text that can be a mix of styles or a completely new style
  • Sans serif – Playful geometric text with no overhanging serifs
  • Serif – Soft traditional text with curved overhanging serifs
  • Slab serif – Blocky text with overhanging straight/angular serifs


Sometimes text just feels off- a good layout will work to fix spacing issues. Leading is the space between each fonts baseline, you can use leading to fit more or fill out text paragraph height. Kerning is the spacing between letters, to focus on the letters spread them out. Tracking is the space between words, adjusting this can remove orphan words or even out a paragraph. Both kerning and tracking can be used to adjust paragraph width (and sometimes height if orphan words are hanging off the paragraph).

Types of font files on a computer

Before many font options existed something called Adobe’s PostScript (PS) was used to display fonts. It send the data for printing to a printer but was slow and and struggled with some fonts. Apple then stepped in and created TrueType (TTF) and it allowed a lot more freedom with font handling and no longer required the printer to handle the font data, they also created a fair amount of free fonts.

Adobe and Microsoft teamed up to create OpenType (OTF) a file type that extended TTF and added more functionality and storage in the font type. Some of the new functionality included Ligatures, Glyphs, Alternate characters and more.

In a nutshell OTF allows greater control and options for one font and is recommend for more advanced typesetting. You can see more options in software like Photoshop and can avoid installing 3-4 TTF fonts with 1 OTF font.

Another somewhat rarely used font file is a type called OpenType-SVG. It just has some additional color options/image options but not a lot of applications support it so I still don’t recommend it yet. It works fine in Adobe software but outside that it is problematic. The other thing is with so many new options it has it’s draw backs like certain fonts will be pixelated if at the wrong scale unlike traditional OpenType.

Smiling Cat Media