How To Create Your Own Fonts & Characters on Windows
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It’s a small Windows program tucked away in the recesses of Windows own System32 folder.

The Private Character Editor (PCE) is almost a monochrome replica of MS Paint but with a different creative use. If you want to create your own fonts or symbols, this is the tool to fire up.

When you don’t have anything to do much with fonts or typography, then the Private Character Editor is one of those little-known Windows features 6 Windows 10 Features You May Have Missed 6 Windows 10 Features You May Have Missed Windows 10 is chock full of new stuff. We help you discover some of the less obvious features and options that are easily missed. Read More you may have overlooked. But as we will see, the little tools pay us back when we need to use them for some productive tasks.

But I am sure you are piqued by fonts and their creative scope. So, you can spend the next five minutes on the Private Character Editor and get to know it better.

Get to Know The Private Character Editor

Private Character Editor

The PCE is an “under the hood” program. It has existed in almost all versions of Windows. You can do two things with the editor.

  1. Make a special text character, symbol or simplified logo that is not available in the installed fonts.
  2. Edit existing type characters and insert them into documents using your computer’s Character Map tool.

There are many third-party tools like FontForge and FontStruct for designing your fonts and symbols. Then, there are umpteen websites for downloading free fonts Want Gorgeous Free Fonts? Here's 25+ Sites Where You'll Find Them Want Gorgeous Free Fonts? Here's 25+ Sites Where You'll Find Them Rather than wade through hundreds of fonts, here are a few sites that'll help you keep up with all the new fonts you'll want to use in your next design. Read More . But the PCE is right there in your Windows system to help you create a simple symbol or character. It is also a creative exercise to stretch the limits of the software that’s right there in front of you.

So, how powerful is it?

PCE provides basic drawing tools for creating and editing those characters with some advanced options.

You can create up to 6,400 unique characters and include them for use in your font library. Once created, use the Character Map to insert them into any document.

Let’s dig it out and understand its functions.

There Is More Than One Way to Start the Private Character Editor

Method 1: Use the Search Box.

Start typing “Private Character Editor” in the search box and select it from the results.

Method 2: Access it from the Control Panel

Enter private in the search box, and click Private Character Editor under Fonts.

Method 3: Open it from the Run dialog box.

Press Windows + R to open Run > Type eudcedit > Click OK.

Method 4: Open it from the Command Prompt

Open the command prompt How to Run Command Prompt Commands With a Desktop Shortcut How to Run Command Prompt Commands With a Desktop Shortcut Tired of typing the same commands over and over again, day in and day out? Create a shortcut that you can double-click and let it handle it for you. Read More window. Type eudcedit > Press Enter.

Method 5: Give it your own shortcut.

Right-click anywhere on the desktop. Select New > Shortcut from the menu. Type %windir%\system32\eudcedit.exe in the field. Click Next to advance to the screen where you give a name to the shortcut. Press Finish to set up the shortcut on your desktop.

You can always pin the window to the Start menu or the taskbar for faster access.

Explore the Private Character Editor Window

PCE starts with a Select Code window. This window associates the character you are about to create with a specific place in the Windows character library. The funny numbers on the Select Code grid are hexadecimal codes that will be allotted to your new character.

Private Character Editor - Code

For instance, if you choose the first box, the code will be E000. If you pick the box from the second column and the first row, the code will be E001. Select any of the little gray boxes and click on OK.

Note: By default, PCE uses the Unicode character set.

The interface of the editor is barebones with a grid drawing area and the drawing toolbar with 10 tools on the left. You can also access the drawing tools from the Tools menu. The grid represents the total area of a character measuring 64 x 64. Each character that you draw becomes a black and white bitmap (*.bmp).

Private Character Editor Grid

The drawing area is simple enough for a third grader to understand but the actual drawing takes a calligraphist’s hand. My efforts below will show that I am certainly not one.

It takes a lot to use the mouse as a brush. Use the left mouse button to draw in black and the right one for white. This basic interface is enough if you want to create your own typeface. But imagine the endurance and effort!

So, stick to simple symbols that you can use as a “stamp” or a special typeface for an email signature.

Here are two things you can do when you don’t want to start from scratch.

1. You can use an existing character as a template to create a new character.

Copy the existing character to the grid. Go to Edit > Copy Character. And then change it with the tools at your disposal. The existing character can also be used as a visual guide in a Reference window next to the Edit Grid (Select Window > Reference).

We will look into this method in detail below.

2. You can copy and paste bitmap selections between the PCE and other bitmap drawing programs like Paint. For instance, you can create a bitmap in Paint and then copy-paste it in PCE.

Private Character Editor - Copy from Paint

Create With The Private Character Editor

The toolbar has all the basic tools to make your first character from scratch.

  • The default tool is the Pencil for drawing on one square at a time. The Brush helps you draw 2×2 squares at a time.
  • The Straight Line tool, the Hollow Rectangle tool, the Filled Rectangle tool, the Hollow Ellipse tool, and the Filled Ellipse tool are just what they say.
  • The Free Form Selection tool and the Rectangular Selection tool select the different shapes you draw on the grid.
  • The Eraser tool removes 2×2 areas of drawing.

Now, it’s all about your creativity and the font you want to create. For instance, I created a skyline silhouette. How does it look? Tell me in the comments.

Private Character Editor Symbol

The Easier Way to Create a Character

Using a pre-existing font as a starting point can be easier. You can choose from any of the installed fonts for download fonts from the sources available online.

From the Menu, go to Window > Reference.

The Reference Window

Choose the typeface you would like to use by clicking the Font button on the Reference screen.

Choose Font

Select the character you would like to use as the template for your own. Click OK to load it into the editor.

The PCE displays two windows now. The Reference window on the right is your guide. The blank Edit window on the left is your canvas.

Private Character Editor Edit Window

Copy the Reference character with one of the selection tools on the toolbar. Select and then press Ctrl + C. Paste it on the Edit window with a Ctrl + V. You can close the Reference window to bring the Edit window front and center.

Go crazy – design your character with all the creativity at your disposal.

Save and Use Your Own Font or Symbol

The process to save a design is the same for both the above processes.

You have two options — associate the new character with a font family or with all fonts installed on your computer. For a specific font family, your custom character will be available exclusively from there.

Click the File menu and select Font Links and then click Yes on the next save prompt. Keep the Link with All Fonts option selected and click OK.

Private Character Editor - Font Links

The character is now linked to the fonts in your system. To save the character with a specific hexadecimal code — click Edit and select Save Character from the menu to save it. You can associate and save the character to a different hexadecimal code too. Select Save Character As instead.

private-character-editor-save-the-character

Use the character with the help of the Character Map on your system.

The new character can be found in the drop-down under All Fonts (Private Characters) or under a specific font (Private Characters) depending upon the choice of association in the earlier step. Select the character and hit copy. Now it can be pasted into any application.

Character Map

Don’t get scared if you see a tiny black blob. Just increase its font size like as you would do with any other character.

The Character Map 10 Simple But Useful Ways To Use The Character Map & Your Lesser-Used Fonts 10 Simple But Useful Ways To Use The Character Map & Your Lesser-Used Fonts Read More hasn’t gone through many changes since Windows XP. The PCE gives you another route to use it.

Do remember:

All rules applicable to fonts also apply to the newly created character. It goes for all font functions like size, bold, italic, etc. Also, custom characters will not be available on other computers unless they are installed there too.

So, your own symbols and characters will work on printed documents but not with emails or shared documents as the recipients will not have it on their systems.

Creative Ideas for Using the Private Character Editor

Creativity does not require constraints but it can help you channelize it. It can be an exercise in fun — as we have seen earlier while making logos with Microsoft Word How To Make a Logo Easily with Microsoft Word How To Make a Logo Easily with Microsoft Word Microsoft Word isn't the first choice for drawing logos. It doesn't have the credentials to merit a place in a lineup of design software. But can it gatecrash? Let's take a risk. Read More or designing an infographic with Microsoft PowerPoint How to Make an Infographic for Free with PowerPoint How to Make an Infographic for Free with PowerPoint You can make infographics easily and quickly with PowerPoint. PowerPoint is an undercover infographic design tool that requires very little effort to produce beautiful, high quality graphics. Read More .

What are some of your ideas for the Private Character Editor? Do you think that this tool will find more value if it is not treated as a hidden application?

Image Credit: ARTIST via Shutterstock.com

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  1. Me
    June 6, 2017 at 1:25 am

    Thank you, that was incredibly helpful. Why there are not more references to this on the web, I don't know.

  2. same
    November 16, 2016 at 2:59 pm

    good one

  3. same
    November 16, 2016 at 2:59 pm

    it real cool, thanks alot

  4. karen smith
    August 14, 2016 at 7:00 pm

    so I can scan the characters in save them and grab them with this application?

  5. Merfkin11
    July 12, 2016 at 12:29 am

    How do you know what key the new character will be bound to?

    • Saikat Basu
      July 18, 2016 at 7:11 am

      You insert them into documents using the ‘Character Map’. Remembering the shortcut keys could be a bit difficult, but you can create your own shortcut keys with tools like AutoHotKey.

  6. Shira
    May 24, 2016 at 9:30 pm

    It doos not work in internet

  7. mathew
    November 21, 2015 at 4:21 am

    Thiankyou for wonderfull info........ One more quiry can I change my windows driver icon ...... I had changed my windows icon file but not driver

  8. Anonymous
    July 14, 2015 at 3:28 am

    This is an interesting insight, but I have 2 very big factors that don't work with this.

    1. All the characters have a limit of 50x50 pixels when my characters specifically require 80x100 pixels in order to be seen optimally as they would be too small to see the details - which are quite important for my language.

    2. You can NOT create any characters in colour and are restricted to monochrome/black & white characters. This is particularly difficult and annoying as it is highly imperative for each of my characters to be in colour as most of them look very similar and the colour differentiation is the key to understanding whether it's an s, k, u, or p...

    • Saikat Basu
      July 23, 2015 at 4:47 am

      Thanks for the feedback 'Artemis'. Yes, those are the limitations. But then since 2009 (this article is OLD!), lot of easier and better tools are out there for professional use.

      • Anonymous
        July 23, 2015 at 10:16 am

        Okay, thank you very much Saikat for notifying me about this as I was previously unaware of the circumstances. I am quite delighted to hear that there are currently many new tools out in the world, as this very well will make my life much easier.

  9. Ehtesham Rafique
    June 1, 2015 at 8:41 pm

    Little-known app. Very useful. Thank you.

  10. SkippyLoves
    May 13, 2015 at 4:57 pm

    how do you make the canvas bigger?
    My symbol keeps being too small

  11. AQ
    March 18, 2015 at 4:43 am

    Hi All
    kindly, can anyone explain the below part of the answer underneath as I am trying to import my private characters from one PC to another please.
    "unless you save them into a separate font-file and distribute it together with your document."

    Saikat
    April 8, 2009
    The user created fonts will work only on the machine, they were created, unless you save them into a separate font-file and distribute it together with your document.
    Could it be that the ‘migration’ is causing problems to the adding of fonts in the new machine?

  12. Akhil Mr
    February 7, 2015 at 5:51 am

    Thanks buddy for this amazing info......... It's great.. ...

  13. Alex
    February 3, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    So what I want to know is, how do you compile all your characters into a special font, so that you can type that way in, say, Microsoft Word?

  14. Lotus
    January 18, 2010 at 8:35 pm

    Heh, too bad this thing does not come with instructions. I am looking at it and am able to draw but have absolutely no idea about how to create a selective font like all of those fancy created fonts out there available for download.. I just want to be able to put my own symbols in a font for use in a book or to be able to freely select it as a font and start typing. Any suggestions?

  15. a person
    December 29, 2009 at 5:52 pm

    i create one and then when i try to make another and save it the one that i created before changes to that :S

  16. Paco
    December 12, 2009 at 1:34 pm

    I'm running Private Character Editor on Windows 7 and am trying to save one simple 64x64 bitmap character and it's telling me "Not enough memory. Please retry after other processes finish".

    I've made only about 120 other private characters without any problem like this and there are thousands of remaining empty blocks for other private characters. So I don't think it could be a space problem. Though I did experiment making one with just one bit filled and that one actually was able to save without the message popping up. Very strange.

    The only program that I have running at the same time is "sticky notes" so I know it's not that. I went on task manager and it didn't seem like anything was taking a huge amount of RAM.

    My Computer>Properties says I have 3GB available of RAM and I have over 200GB available on my hard drive.

    I've restarted and shut down and still the message pops up if I try again.

    Someone please help.

  17. AnimatorAmps
    July 29, 2009 at 4:47 pm

    Wow cool!!! I must ask: when you have a set of characters you made and saved, can they be backed up and reinstalled to your computer after having your computer wiped out?

  18. emily
    July 13, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    is it on windows xp?and where do i go to find it?

    • Saikat
      July 14, 2009 at 9:56 pm

      Yes...look at Point Nos.1 of the article.

      • joshko
        February 4, 2010 at 6:17 pm

        I was womdering... how ca i make mine a separate font that i can use in word or something... thanks.
        ps great thinking

  19. Victor
    April 6, 2009 at 10:48 pm

    I was able to migrate these private characters (I have hundreds of them) to another computer. But after that I was not able to add new private characters to file (EUDC) in the new computer. Anyone knows how?

    • Saikat
      April 8, 2009 at 12:37 am

      The user created fonts will work only on the machine, they were created, unless you save them into a separate font-file and distribute it together with your document.
      Could it be that the 'migration' is causing problems to the adding of fonts in the new machine?

  20. melina
    March 16, 2009 at 8:25 pm

    well i dont have a notepad on my computer what do i do!!

    • Saikat
      March 17, 2009 at 9:32 am

      Notepad? I don't think I have mentioned that anywhere.If you mean that you don't have PCE in your comp, then the only solution I think is to copy the .exe file from someone else's folder and copy that into your ...\Windows\System32\ folder. You can try that out though I am not sure it will work.

  21. Mathurankan
    March 6, 2009 at 6:34 pm

    I think this hidden tool is a good tool. This shouldn't have been hidden in the first place. Iam using my computer for a long time and i didn't know i had a idden tool. Thanks for your help.

  22. Sean
    January 27, 2009 at 11:02 am

    OK. I get the Private Character topic but how in the heck do I *easily* use the characters I create? I find that when I drag them into IE, they just show up as a box, even though I have the characters associated with all fonts.

    If any knows how to make these accessible through an ALT+NNNN command PLEASE LET ME KNOW!!!

  23. Rob
    January 18, 2009 at 3:40 am

    What the hell? How long has that been there? I noticed it the other day when I was playing with Windows 7, but I had no idea it wasn't new. Seriously, when was this introduced? XP? 2000? Not that I have any real use for this, but it's cool to know its there.

  24. Tony
    January 14, 2009 at 10:42 am

    I think that this has it's uses, but as you said, if the character isn't present on other computers, it's only of use internally.

    • Saikat
      January 14, 2009 at 1:21 pm

      Hi Tony,

      Yes, as with all fonts this is a limitation. But it can be used as an embedded font in pdf files and xps (ie. Microsoft’s new electronic paper format)files.

      • help
        December 29, 2016 at 2:09 pm

        how do you type the characters?

        • Saikat Basu
          December 30, 2016 at 2:41 pm

          As I said above, you insert them into documents using the ‘Character Map’. Remembering the shortcut keys could be a bit difficult, but you can create your own shortcut keys with tools like AutoHotKey.

          By the way, this post is due for an update.

  25. Hari
    January 12, 2009 at 10:15 pm

    Wonderful!
    Oh! why didn't you let the world know about this earlier? :)
    But, seriously, this is what I'd been asking a lot of people about. Thanks!