How to use the New Variable Fonts in InDesign

by Stefano Bernardi 3 minutes to read

With the release of InDesign 2020, Adobe brings from Photoshop to InDesign one of the best features a creative person can ask for: Variable Fonts.

Adobe InDesign has always been a tool capable of beautiful typography and oriented to strong, omnipresent automation.

These two sides of InDesign unify with this new feature, giving designers new sets of possibilities for their arts.

What are Variable Fonts?

Traditionally a Font is a precise set of characteristics (size, width, spacing, style, etc..) of a specific typeface, where the typeface is the shape of the Font.

With Variable Fonts this concept is partially changed. In a sense that the developer of the Font (Fonts are software) might decide to make some characteristics variable and allow the user to change those characteristics to match a new design.

In other words, imagine a new Font where the width is not fixed and you can literally condensing or extending each glyph width as much as you want.

Take now this fantasy world, and imagine Fonts that can bleed (like Cheee Variable) or become 3 dimensional (like the FS Kitty VF) or do other things that until now you would have had only in your wildest dreams or would have required hours and hours of work in Illustrator.

Example of variable fonts in InDesign

How do you use Variable Fonts in InDesign?

Using a Variable Font is as easy as using any other font. After you selected the text in your document, click on the font selection, Variable Fonts are all highlighted by a new "Var" icon (see screenshot below).

Variable font in InDesign

Pick the font you prefer, and you'll see the Variable Font icon popping up.

Variable font icon

When you click on it, you'll find some widgets. Drag each value to change the Font.

How to adjust variable font

Do Paragraph Styles support Variable Fonts?

You bet they can! InDesign is all about automation and help you being more precise, consistent and save time with your layout works.

When you'll be creating or editing your Paragraph Style in InDesign, you'll find all the options of the Variable Font in the tab "Basic Character Formats".

Variable font in paragraph style InDesign

Where can you find Variable Fonts

The best place to look for Variable Fonts that are compatible with InDesign is Adobe Fonts (former Type Kit).

But if you are looking for some precious gems, you might want to check V-fonts.com. Unfortunately, not all Fonts in there are compatible with InDesign, so you might want to check their compatibility before your purchase.

Variable Fonts worth mentioning

Some of my favourite Fonts, that I would suggest you to check right away to understand the power of Variable Fonts, are:

Want to keep learning? If so, make sure you have a look at our detailed and helpful lists with the best InDesign tutorials and InDesign courses.

See you on the next one,

Stefano

Stefano Bernardi
Stefano Bernardi

Stefano has worked on numerous mid to large–sized InDesign projects for Alstom, DeLonghi, Philips, and many others before starting Redokun in 2015.
As Redokun’s Co-Founder, Stefano spends most of his time helping customers to optimize their InDesign work-flow. He also holds in-house InDesign courses for companies in the Venice, Italy area.

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