Many documents (especially older ones) use what looks like a curly brace { to join multiple elements together. Here's an example of this to illustrate programming code, and here's a thread about doing this in TeX.

This can even be done directly in posts on math.SE: an answer using these braces.

curly braces

What's the best way to go about making braces like this? An ideal solution for my needs would:

  • use InDesign or Photoshop
  • keep the typographic look of a serif font's {
  • be easily expanded to cover more or less area

Any ideas?

Update: Check out the links above. Just resizing a single { character isn't the desired effect. Imagine if there were characters that meant "start of brace", "straight part of brace", "middle of brace", and "end of brace". You could use them together to make one giant brace. Something like `-----v-----' where the brace can encompass more space by simply adding more - characters.

  • 2
    What do you mean 'making braces like that'? They are standard characters accessible via the keyboard. – DA01 Nov 30 '11 at 18:05
  • 1
    @DA01, notice how (in the pictures I linked to) the braces expand to encompass more text? Yes, they're basically the standard { character, but expanded. – Joe Nov 30 '11 at 19:29
  • Ah. I see. I'll add an answer. – DA01 Nov 30 '11 at 19:55

Several options.

  1. draw it. Not that hard to do in a vector illustration program. Draw half of it then flip to make the other half and join them together.

  2. Scale a brace from a particular typeface (as e100 suggests)

  3. or perhaps the easiest/most versatile: choose a brace from a typeface in your vector illustration program of choice and convert it to outlines. You should now be able to select the points along the outer curves and drag them to stretch out the brace but retain it's relatively style/thickness. After dragging them, there may be a bit of tweaking to do, but it's how I've done it in the past.

My ASCII example (the O's being the bezier points):

              x      <------+ Select then drag
               O              these points as needed
  • Here, you can find a shape for option 1 and the detailed steps for option 3. – MagTun Oct 29 '18 at 9:49

Old thread, new solution

Go to TYPE-->GLYPHS Ensure the Show drop down is set to Entire Font. Set the font to Symbol | Regular (for some reason this doesn't work on a standard type fram).

In the symbols font, toward the end (just before the closed apple) You'll find the individual bracket elements. Adjust the indent, vertical scale and space after properties until the desired alignment is achieved.

enter image description here

It requires some tweaking, but the results are more aesthetic.

        enter image description here

Image 2: Example of what it looks like

  • 2
    Could you please add a screenshot where the tweaking is applied? Right now it is not very clear how good the final outcome might be. – Saaru Lindestøkke Jan 7 '15 at 14:22
  • You also used the wrong "parts". That's why they do not align by default. – Jongware Jan 7 '15 at 18:49
  • Added example result with some "creative" variation. – joojaa Jan 7 '15 at 19:15
  • I assume this process is for InDesign? – Joe Jan 7 '15 at 21:40
  • @Joe It would work in nearly any application that has typographic control. Indesign, sure, all adobe apps, sure. MS word, sure.... – joojaa Jan 8 '15 at 5:09

In your vector program, type the brace character, scale it, and turn it into a guide. Use that as the outline to draw the brace with Bézier curves. Make it as thick or thin as you like.


I mostly agree with DA01's answer but I'd do it directly in InDy, since you won't have to switch programs to do some adjustments. So create "curls" by e.g. typing it and create outlines (select text frame with brace to do that)*. Now use "direct selection", but here's the difference: select nodes on both ends of brace simultanously and use "scale" tool with base point of transformation choosen on perpendicular to your scaling direction. That way you'll have brace extended to the perfectly same length in both directions.

*You can do it by selecting text only, but it'll leave shape enclosed in the text frame instead of having it as a separate object without any "frame".


Copy-paste the autoshape from Word works for me ;)

It is pasted as a vector shape and can be resized as necessary.

  • Please explain how to write in Word? Can you show a screenshot? And then how to change the size? – Mensch Dec 10 '15 at 12:00
  • @Kurt Insert | Shapes | Basic Shapes | Left/Right Brace for the ribbon interface and View | Panels | Drawing, then Autoshape | Basic shapes | icon in the bottom-right for the old interface – Antony Hatchkins Dec 10 '15 at 13:39
  • Can you please this to your answer to make it better ;-) – Mensch Dec 15 '15 at 17:17
  • @Kurt I don't like long answers to short questions. Long answers are harder to read. If someone is interested he'll find the details in the comments. – Antony Hatchkins Dec 15 '15 at 17:22
  • Not a vector in CS5.5 – David Oct 1 '16 at 6:41

I think the key point you're asking is how to make one of arbitrary size.

The simple answer is to just scale the { character accordingly. You must scale it proportionally to avoid distortion.

But for a particularly large bracket, this would look too heavy in relation to normal text, so you might choose one from a lighter (less bold) font, or if need be fine tune the width of the strokes.

  • You're alluding to the real problem in your third paragraph, that merely scaling the curly brace would change its apparent weight/thickness. – Joe Nov 30 '11 at 19:31

I know, that this theme is old, but it is still on the top of google search, so I decided to give a reply, by providing an option, not mentioned here yet:

  1. Download a brush set
  2. Install it
  3. Use New layer + Brush settings + Free transform to get the brace of the desired shape

  • 3
    This is Stack Exchange -- it doesn't matter how old a question is, feel free to answer if you have something worth contributing. Your answer might not help the person who originally asked in 2011, but it might help someone who googles it in 2025. – Joe Mar 21 '17 at 20:17
  • @Joe Oh, well, I love Stack Exchange then, thak you for explanation. – fires3as0n Mar 22 '17 at 5:54

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