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Accessing Contextual Alternatives in Adobe Creative Suite

Help! I purchased a font, but I think I downloaded a different one.

If you're seeing different results when you're typing with a font you bought and installed on your computer than previews you may have seen online, chances are you purchased a font with OpenType features. If you are using these fonts in Adobe Creative Suite programs (such as InDesign, Illustrator, or Photoshop), you can change the way some of the letters look.

Some fonts have variations on different letterforms; for example, the lowercase "a" might have two different shapes or forms for one font. If you bought a font online, installed it, started typing, and realize the letters look different from what you saw online, there are ways to access these alternative letterforms, called "Contextual Alternatives".


Contextual Alternatives in Adobe InDesign or Illustrator


In Adobe InDesign or Illustrator, you can access your Glyphs palette by going to the menu bar, and under the Type menu, you'll see an option for Glyphs. This will open up a window that will show you all the glyphs — or characters — available for use in a chosen font.


Contextual Alternatives in Adobe Photoshop


In Adobe Photoshop, if you know which letters have an alternative letterform, you can change it by going to your menu bar, and under the "Window" menu, open up your Character palette. In the upper right of the Character palette, you'll see a tiny triangle with four lines next to it; click on this icon and windows will pop-up. If you hover over "OpenType" as shown above, you'll have the option to uncheck "Contextual Alternatives" — this will change the letterforms if the font has OpenType features offering alternatives for that letter.

In the example above, you'll see that Acta Poster Regular OT has two different lowercase "a"s, which you can choose from depending if you check or uncheck Contextual Alternatives in your Character palette.


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