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 utility. If you want to create your own fonts or symbols then this is the tool to fire up.

An ‘out of sight’ program, it is used in conjunction with the ‘Character Map’. Through the PCE you can make your own characters (about 6,400 of them!) and insert them into documents using the ‘Character Map’. PCE provides basic drawing tools for creating and editing those characters, along some advanced options.

So let’s dig it out and understand its functions.

  1. To start the Private Character Editor, click the Start menu, and then click Run (or the Windows Key & R). In the Open box, type C:\WINDOWS\system32\eudcedit.exe
  2. PCE starts with a “˜Select Code Window’. This window associates the character you are about to create with a particular position in the Windows character library. The funny numbers are hexadecimal codes that will be allotted to your new character. Select any of the little grey boxes and click on OK.
    Note: By default, PCE uses the Unicode character set.
  3. The interface is utilitarian with a grid drawing area and the drawing toolbar on the left. You can also access the drawing tools from the “˜Tools’ menu.
  4. The grid represents the total area of a character measuring 50 x 50. Each character that you draw becomes a black and white bitmap (*.bmp).
  5. The drawing area is simple enough for a third grader to understand but the actual drawing takes a calligraphist’s hand. The illustration below shows 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. But I found the best thing to be the ability to copy and paste the bitmap selections between PCE and other bitmap drawing programs like Paint.
  6. You can also use an existing character as a template to create a new character. Simply copy the existing character to the grid (Edit – Copy Character…) and then change it with the tools. The existing character can also be used as a visual guide in a Reference window next to the Edit Grid (Window – Reference).
  7. When finished with the new character, you have two options – associate the new character with a particular font family or with all fonts installed in your computer. For a specific font family, your custom character will be available exclusively from there.
  8. The final step is of course to save your hardwork! (Edit – Save Character or Save Character As…) The character gets saved into the position chosen in the “˜Select Code Window’. To save into a different position use “˜Save Character As…’

Use Your Characters

The process is the same as when using any other character. Open any application and access the Character Map through ““

(For WinXP)

Click Start, point to All Programs, point to Accessories, point to System Tools, and then click Character Map.

(For Vista)

Click Accessories, then System Tools folder to access the Character Map.

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Alternatively, Click Start, then the Run dialog…type in charmap.exe; hit OK.

The new character can be found in the dropdown under “˜All Fonts (Private Characters)’ or under a specific font (private characters) depending upon the choice of association in Step 7. Select the character and hit copy. Now it can be pasted into any application.

A Footnote

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

Have you used this hidden tool to create a special character? Do you think that this tool will find more value if it is not treated as a hidden application?

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