Using dingbats is like picking your nose, we all do it on rare occasions, but no-one likes to admit to it. Typefaces of predefined symbols went from hero to zero as the mental image associated with them changed from one of David Carson's infamous use of Zapf Dingbats to unreadably set an apparently boring interview with Brian Ferry in Ray Gun in 1994 to every copier salesman on the planet using the Wingdings font included with Microsoft Office for every banal Word document and PowerPoint presentation.

FontShop has it's own symbols face, FF Dingbats – one they have determinedly attempted to keep uncool by updating it for the latest consumer gadgets such as Nintendo Wii controllers and iPhones. But the company has also generously just released a new dingbats face, Erier Dingbats, for free – which includes the symbols you might actually use and only a limited amount of ephemeral nonsense.

FontShop says that it's releasing Erier Dingbats to help promote the Unicode standard for text encoding, and the company says that application and even mobile device developers are free to use the font for the representation of symbols. Erier Dingbats was designed by Johannes Erler and Henning Skibbe, who created FF Dingbats 2.0 – but we won't hold that against them.

"For years I’ve been bored by the ubiquitous OS-Dingbats fonts and so I decided to design my own, based on my FF Dingbats. I’ve been using a beta version for several months and all my friends want them, too. So, I had the idea to give them away for free," says Johannes Erler. He says that giving it away for free is his penance for putting a PlayStation controller symbol into FF Dingbats 2.0. Actually, he didn't say this, but he should have.