I have read it is a font with additional characters and ligature.

The expert set was introduced it in the beginning of the 90s, see http://www.typophile.com/node/40309.

from fontshop.com:

Exp | Expert Set

Depending on the foundry Expert Sets could hold different configurations of glyphs. The naming implied that those fonts provided all the characters missing in the standard fonts that a typographic expert may have need of. Originally Expert Sets included only small caps, oldstyle or hanging figures, additional ligatures, often super- and subscript letters and numbers, plus some additional special characters and sometimes swash variants. Normal height capitals were absent, and their slots were occupied by other expert characters.

I am wondering if there is specific elements that characterize an expert set beyond the fact that there is additional characters provided.

  • 2
    That's all in my answer, ligatures, languages, math, kerning. I get a feeling you're trying to buy a low cost version of some expensive family, but you've got the wrong idea, nobody's selling sub-sections of fonts. You either buy it or you don't. The term 'expert set' is made up and doesn't really mean something specific in typographic language. Certainly doesn't mean the low cost option.
    – Lucian
    Jul 23, 2019 at 8:32
  • @Lucian haha, I am reading some articles currently and just explore the meaning of expert's set, thanks for your details :).
    – CodingWeb
    Jul 23, 2019 at 8:37
  • @Lucian with Lucian we talked about this link: creativepro.com/…. I have updated my post to evacuate the question of two differents font and focus about what make a font's expert set. Thanks Lucian to provide some details, effectively the creativepro's article is old, 2006 :).
    – CodingWeb
    Jul 23, 2019 at 8:50

3 Answers 3


There is no standard definition of "Pro" or "Expert" fonts. It was a term that started in the early 2000's when many foundries updated their fonts to include a wider character range and OpenType features. However there was no consensus between foundries on which character set or which features constituted an expert font, so currently the term means generally a font intended for professional typesetting, with enough characters / features for text, but your mileage may vary on what it includes.

  • That's not an expert set font: what you describe is the pro release of a font, with extra characters. In an expert set the normal alphabet range is replaced by alternative characters, so when you type 'a' you get a small-cap 'a', or when you type 'A' you get a swash capital.
    – Copilot
    Jul 29, 2019 at 21:06

You've probably read about commercial typefaces (as opposed to free fonts), which generally can include:

  • more weights grouped into families (eg. not just bold and regular)
  • more glyphs (eg. extended language sets, russian, german, french, asian sets)
  • specialized glyphs (eg. math symbols, icons)
  • ligatures (eg. google this)
  • better kerning and optical corrections (eg. google this)

Plus, commercial fonts are generally designed by experienced designers and this is not always the case with free fonts.


Expert set fonts are additional fonts sold with professional font families. Often they would have genuine small caps as the lower-case, text figures for the numerals, swash capitals in the capital positions (in italic), and maybe ligatures at some codepoint or other (font design studios used to have standards for those; I've checked an old manual for Neutraface and you pressed shift-option 5 for an 'fi' ligature). You would switch fonts to the expert set (say from Minion to Minion-Expert) when you needed those features, and sometimes I think people would have macros to do the ligature substitution. Now that most apps (Microsoft Word excepted) can handle OpenType alternate characters you rarely see them. But there is one primitive font family like this still if you're on a Mac: Bodoni 72 comes with separate "small caps" and "oldstyle figures" fonts, and the ligatures are not substituted in, you have to copy and paste them in. Alternatively, sometimes these characters would be encoded in unusual codepoints in the font used for its normal characters, and you'd find them using a character map tool and copy and paste them in (or set up a macro to do it).

  • This. I clearly recall being a student wondering what all the gibberish was (instead of the regular abcd... ) when looking at Expert font previews, because I didn't know what they were for (ligatures, oldstyle, small caps, ets.)
    – curious
    Jul 29, 2019 at 23:46
  • "The “Expert Set” is a character set invented by Adobe around 1990, which includes Latin small caps, oldstyle figure, a set of five f ligatures (fi, fl, ff, ffi, ffl), fractions and superiors. In the original meaning, an “Expert Set font” has exactly these characters, and supplements a “regular” character set font." typophile.com/node/40309
    – curious
    Jul 29, 2019 at 23:47

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.