How to Use Advanced Font Features in Keynote for Mac

Font with and without swashes

What are advanced font features?

Advanced font features are all the little extras that a font includes. Those extras can be multiple versions of the same letter or character that can be used to replace specific characters in your document. They can be called different names: swashes or ligatures or glyphs, and they’re the extra strokes you’ll notice on many script fonts, such as the font I use for my name below.


What fonts have them?

Lots of fonts have them, and you probably already have some on your computer, especially if you have any OpenType fonts (OTF) installed.

Where can I get those fonts?

Two of my favorite websites for purchasing fonts are Creative Market and The Hungry JPEG. There are lots of other places out there. You may already have a favorite spot for finding gorgeous fonts!

How do I find the extra characters?

  1. In Keynote, select Format, Font, Show Fonts. Or you can simply type “Command +T”.

2. Next click the gear/settings button in the upper left corner of the window that opens.

3. Select Typography.

If the font you’re using includes additional characters, an additional window will open. If it doesn’t, a message that says “No Typographic Features in This Font” will appear. If there are no additional typographic features in the font you chose, you’ll need to look for another font in order to make adjustments to the look of the font.

4. Highlight the letter you would like to change, and you’ll see that the default option is No Alternates. Try Alternate 1 for the first letter of a word.

5. Try Alternate 3 (and sometimes 2, depending on what is included) for the last letter of a word.

6. For short words, changing the first and last letters is usually best from a design standpoint, like the example above. You don’t want to change every letter because it can begin to look a little busy and crowded, especially in really short words.

Here’s an example

In my name below, the original version of the font is pretty, but I wanted to do something extra-special to make it stand out. I added some of the additional alternates to a few of the middle letters and played around until I found a combination of letter swashes that I loved. The bottom image is the final outcome, and I’m in love! Using the advanced font features makes quite a difference!

I hope this helps you as you create your piano recital programs, Instagram images, design cover images for your shop, create images for your blog posts, or whatever you’re working on this beautiful day.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Maria

    Thank you so much! your explanation and your designs are beautiful!

    1. Melody Payne

      Thanks so much, Maria! I’m so glad to hear it was helpful for you! Have fun!

  2. anumadz

    Thanks a ton for this post! You have no idea how excited I am to have found this solution..LOL!

    1. Melody Payne

      I’m so glad you’re finding it helpful! When I realized how easy it was to use the special aspects of the fonts, I was just as excited 🙂

Leave a Reply


Hi! I’m Melody Payne, a pianist and piano teacher, educational resource author, a fun-loving wife to the most wonderful and talented hubby I could ask for, and a lifelong learner who loves to share. I want to make your life as a music teacher easier by writing and sharing helpful and relevant music teaching articles, and by creating educational resources with your very own students in mind. If you are a parent who wants to enroll your child in piano lessons, I’d love for us to get started building those skills that can give your child a lifetime of musical enjoyment!

Looking for Something?

Blog Categories

Subscribe to the Newsletter

Let's Connect