I'm using Adobe Illustrator Creative Cloud (v.23.0.4) on OS X (v.10.14.5, Mojave). Illustrator will not display the handful of Unicode characters I am trying to use (∠∢⊾⊿⦣⦠⦟⦜⦝⦞⦛⦨). As a sanity check, I opened Text Edit to make sure they exist in the typeface I'm using — Helvetica Neue — and they appear to.

I noticed that if I changed the font in TextEdit, though, the glyphs (generally) did not change; as if OS X does some on-the-fly typeface substitution in that application that it (maybe) isn't able to do within Illustrator.

The Google research I did all turned up some variation of the same solution: use the Glyphs panel. Which I tried. Which brings me to my question. How do I search for a glyph by Unicode in the Illustrator Glyphs panel? Is there a way to see which typefaces support a given character without selecting each individually and scanning through all of its characters?

EDIT: Illustrator will display the glyphs in the Apple Symbols typeface. I suspect that's the face OS X uses in TextEdit


1 Answer 1


The Mac OS does perform some "voodoo".

The Symbol Font was specifically created, and is a mandatory Mac OS font, because the OS does pull from the Symbol font if the user chooses a glyph which is not available in any other font they are using.

The Mac OS uses a hierarchy for glyphs...

  • Use the chosen font
  • If glyph is not available in chosen font, use glyph from Symbol font
  • If glyph is not in Symbol font - show missing glyph [x]

So all Apple apps tend to follow this mindset and TextEdit would show the behavior, as would iMovie or Pages etc. Adobe apps tend to honor user choices more and won't auto-substitute individual glyphs. Adobe apps only substitute entire missing fonts, not their internal glyphs.

  • This addresses the part about font-substitution for sure. Aug 15, 2019 at 20:11
  • And not just Macs . . . pasting these into a text document in Notepad/Libreoffice on a Windows PC just works, but pasting into Illustrator does not.
    – Billy Kerr
    Aug 18, 2019 at 12:32

Your Answer

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

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