How to Use Special Characters in Adobe InDesign

In Brief...

Special Characters are a wonderful feature of InDesign that can save time and add professional polish to the typography in a layout. Special Characters include commonly used characters, such as ® and ©, as well as lesser characters that can create all the difference in type treatment. In this example, I'll use Special Characters to stylize a quote.


  1. In the example shown, the opening quotation mark should be hanging, and the hyphens should be em dashes.
    Text Example

  2. To create a hanging indent on the opening quote, insert the text cursor after the quotation mark. Go to the Type menu, scroll down to Insert Special Character, then go to Other and choose Indent to Here.
    Indent to Here in Type Menu

  3. To create the em dash, select each hyphen individually, then go to the Type menu, scroll down to Insert Special Character, then go to Hyphens and Dashes and choose Em Dash.
    Em Dash in Type Menu

  4. There are keyboard shortcuts for many Special Characters. The shortcut for Indent to Here is Ctrl+\ (PC) / Command+\ (Mac). For an em dash, it's Alt+Shift+- (PC) / Option+Shift+- (Mac).
    Text with Hanging Indent and Em Dashes

Author: Kate Cahill

Kate Cahill is a graphic designer, writer, and creative director who has developed content for print and web. As creative director, she has produced award-winning work for agencies focused on the pharmaceutical, and health and beauty aid industries. She has also served as production manager, with responsibility for the successful fulfillment of long-run print contracts. Kate has been delivering training for Webucator clients since 2010. Her enthusiasm for cutting-edge technology, combined with hands-on practical experience, brings an added benefit to her class. Kate teaches real-world techniques and integration of Adobe software, as well as Microsoft PowerPoint to produce a fully-developed and cohesive brand identity.