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How to use PUA encoded characters in Silhouette Studio

How to use beautiful swirly fonts in Silhouette Studio.

Having an unlimited amount of fonts to choose from when you are designing is the definement of crafting joy! Some fonts can come with a set of special characters, so called PUA encoded characters. These are the swirls and swashes that can be included in a font.

Did you know that you can easily use all of these special characters in Silhouette Studio? In this article we will tell you how!

What are PUA encoded characters?

When a font is PUA encoded it means that you can access all the special characters of the font, such as flourishes, swashes, and extra characters. If you want to dive deeper into what PUA encoded characters are, you can read our tutorial here

How do I know if a font is PUA encoded?

If you’re not sure if a font is PUA encoded, you can always check this with the designer or with the seller of the font.

If you purchase/or download fonts from Creative Fabrica, you can easily view via the product page if the font is PUA encoded or not. PUA encoded fonts will me marked as PUA encoded in the font features section.

Using PUA encoded characters in Silhouette Studio

First of all, you need to open the Silhouette canvas and create a new text box with or without a text. In this example, we will add a text since we want to show you the difference between a fonts default characters and the PUA encoded characters.

Select a font that is PUA encoded. In this example, we will use the Magic Winter Script from the Magic Winter Trio font. As you can see, this font is displayed very differently on the preview photo, compared to what it looks like when you type it out.

That is because this font is PUA encoded. Most of the characters in the preview image above are alternate characters that do not show by default once you install the font. You can access these if you access the PUA encoded characters.

Access alternate characters via the Character Map and Font Book 

Next step is to open the Character Map on Windows, or Font Book on Mac.

Character Map on Windows

In the Character Map you’ll be able to view all the fonts installed on your computer. Open the Character Map, locate the font in the list. Click Group By: Unicode Subrange. A small pop-up window will appear named Group By. Click Private Use Characters at the bottom of the list.

Click once to preview the character, click once to place it in the Characters to copy column.

Mark the character and press Copy or Ctrl+C on your keyboard (to copy the glyph), and paste it into Design Space in the text box you already created.

Why does the character show up like a white box on the canvas?

If you copy the character into a blank canvas, the character might show up as a blank white box. The reason why this happens, is because if you simply paste a PUA encoded character onto a blank canvas, Silhouette will select the default font which in this case is Arial. Since this PUA encoded character that you pasted onto your canvas isn’t a characters from the Arial font, the program will generate an unread character (the white box).

To fix this, simply mark the box and select the right font, and the correct character will show up.

Font Book on Mac

In Font Book you’ll be able to view all the fonts installed on your computer. Open Font Book and locate the font in the list. If you click it, you will be able to view all the available characters of the font in the list to the right. At the bottom of this list, you can view the PUA encoded characters.

Select the characters that you would like to add to your text, click command+C (to copy the glyph), and paste it into Silhouette in the text box you already created.

The PUA encoded character will show on the canvas.

Using Fontcloud

If you want to easily manage your fonts and access the PUA encoded characters – Fontcloud is a great tool! Creative Fabrica’s font manager allows you to get an easy overview of your fonts, and all the included glyphs.

Upload the font to Fontcloud. Locate the font in the ‘Your Fonts’ list. The PUA encoded characters are located at the bottom of the glyphs list.

Click on the glyphs that you would like to add to your text in Silhouette Studio. The glyph will be saved to your clipboard.

Open Silhouette and paste the glyph into the textbox you created.

If you have any further questions, feel free to reach out to us at [email protected]

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