The history of dingbats is as old as the printing press. A typesetting solution to esthetic concerns and ornamental augments, dingbats provide type characters that create framing, add punctuation, manage empty space and provide embellishments to complement and organize blocks of text. With the advent of computerized typesetting, you may have a selection of dingbats in the form of fonts (also known as pi fonts) that are available for use in various publishing programs. The tradition of these ornamental symbols is so rich and vital to typography that some type foundries still cast symbols for letterpress printers.
Dingbats come in a plethora of varieties. Some decorative designs incorporate animal themes, others are directional or grammatical in nature, like arrows and manicules; or the ancient Greek hedera symbol which divided paragraphs, much like the modern pilcrow (¶) sign is used today. Historically, floral themes supplied decorative space fillers and framing; these are known are fleurons. Digital typesetting has brought about character codes that includes an array of dingbats in the Unicode and universal character set. This has popularized dingbats and made them easily applicable in desktop publishing.
Fontspace has a over 1,500 crowd shared "pi fonts" available for free download. Users have contributed such varied designs that feature banners, frames, stars, unique fleurons, hearts, popular characters and so much more. Here's a list of 7 dingbats themes that have over 50,000 downloads!
If you've developed your own set of fun and helpful dingbats, and want to share them with the world, contact us, or get started here. We look forward user contributions that can enhance the design possibilities of typographers everywhere.