Private Use Area

I’m sure this information is out there “somewhere”…but I can’t seem to focus in on it.

When should/shouldn’t you assign PUA numbers to glyphs? Should you assign PUA numbers to all glyphs that don’t have a corresponding unicode number, or are there only specific circumstances when PUA numbers should be assigned.

(ie. Should all members of the Swash feature be assigned PUA numbers?)


Assign PUA values only to those glyphs, that can’t be accessed by a feature. This should always be an exception. I can’t remember when I used PUA values.

Thanks Georg. I appreciate the quick reply.

If you need to represent a sign that (at least theoretically) can appear in various fonts and does not have an official non-PUA Unicode value (yet) and needs to be typed (used in texts), e.g. a company agrees to have its logo on uniF000 or a technical sign it needs in its texts on uniF001, or you invent a new script and use uniE300-uniE3FF for it, or you want to transcribe texts by an author who uses a sign he invented himself and you use uniE4A2 for it, or you want to write texts in Klingon or another invented language that is used in the Conscript Registry.

In other words, if you have characters that need to be written in texts and therefore encoded, transferred and decoded, and that do not have a code yet. Don’t confuse glyphs and characters: an e and a swash e are not two different characters, so only one needs to be encoded, the other one can be accessed through features. Also, a swash e is specific to one font only, namely to the font that carries the e glyph that the swash e is an alternative for.

Does this help you at all or is the answer even more confusing? :slight_smile:

Thanks meekablue…What got me to asking was that I never used to assign PUA numbers to glyphs, but I noticed that with one font in particular, dlig’s didn’t show up in PopChar, but if I assigned a PUA to that font’s dlig’s, they did show up. I haven’t had a chance to check other fonts to see whether their dlig’s show up in PopChar or not. I just thought asking here would be the quickest way to an answer.

It is not recommended to add unicodes to stylistic variants. If you do so, you might be able to add them through Popchar, but if you then switch the font, the glyph disappears or changes (if the new fonts has a glyph with the same unicode).

Thanks again Georg.

That's good because they're not supposed to! You are not supposed to type a ligature, e.g. a_b_c. Instead, the ligature is supposed to kick in automatically when the user types a b c and ligatures are active.

I do appreciate the input, but I think you’re confusing ot features’ intended purpose with the way they are “supposed to” work. Features are intended to automatically replace specific characters with the one specified in the feature…but you should also be able to insert characters manually. Take discretionary ligatures for example. You may not want to turn them on for the majority of your work, but want to use one discretionary ligature in the middle of your piece. You can insert it manually…and indeed, InDesign’s character pallet allows you to do precisely that…or you can turn discretionary ligatures on for only those characters you want the feature applied to.

PopChar seems to read what characters are available in a font differently than Adobe products do. It isn’t much of an issue for me. In fact it only got me curious. I only asked here because there doesn’t seem to be a lot of “official” information about the use of the PUA.

So, your statement is half right:
That’s good because they’re not supposed to! You are not supposed to type a ligature, e.g. a_b_c. Is absolutely wrong. There are many instances where you may want to manually insert a feature glyph.

the ligature is supposed to kick in automatically when the user types a b c and ligatures are active. Is absolutely right.

PopChar is to input chars. If you want to input alternate glyphs, you need to use the glyph panel in Indesign. It does the right thing and inserts the characters and applies the feature to them.
If you add the feature glyph directly (with its PUA value) you will break a lot, hyphenation, the ability to search…) and will loose them if you change the font. So it will just not work.

I seem to have led this discussion off in an unintended tangent.

What I wanted to find out was when to use and when not to use PUAs. I got that answer right after posting the original query, from Georg and then later from mekkablue.

I thank you both for that.

The discussion about PopChar vs the Adobe Glyph Panels is one I seem to have stumbled down without meaning to. I would hope that if any application has a built-in glyph panel, that the user would use that one. PopChar is useful for those apps that don’t have a built-in glyphs panel. It’s just MHO that when using an app that doesn’t have a built-in glyphs panel that it can be used just like the built-in ones…bearing in mind the danger of later changing the font used and messing up the output. The only reason I mentioned PopChar in the first place was because it was what got me curious about PUAs.

I think I got the right answer…thanks.