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list of ligatures

List Of Ligatures: Guide For Typographers

This article will acquaint you with the best way to use a list of ligatures.

“Ligature” derives from the Latin word “ligatus,” meaning connection and bond. 

History reaches as far back as the Sumerian cuneiform, the earliest type of writing, and contains several ligature examples.

Many historical scripts use ligatures.

Historical Uses Of Ligatures

Scribes have also used ligatures to speed up writing.

They were a natural evolution of language and writing, considering that it was handwritten.

During the 15th century, these small characters’ use increased with the introduction of the movable form of metal. 

There was a printing method that used metal letter blocks to print documents.

The use of ligature was time-saving and room-saving in this scheme.

Due to the common use of sans-serif fonts, letters with little overlap, and typewriters, they began to decrease out of use in the 1950s.

Still, now with modern publishing and digital publications, ligatures are seldom used, and if they are, it is purely out of stylistic choice.

Combining Letters

And suppose you’ve ever found a copy of the Encyclopædia Britannica. 

In that case, you may have probably seen the unusual tiny symbol inserted into the word “encyclopaedia.”

In here, the ligature is defined as the combination of letters “a” and “e.”

Hence, it’s just two or more symbols connected to form a single character once writing, like in fantasy writing and typography. 

In other terms, by combining multiple symbols, a ligature is a single symbol generated.

It needs to be mentioned that, depending on their use, some symbols, like æ, are both ligatures and independent letters, but the root of æ is a ligature in Latin. 

Still, æ is a letter in languages like Danish and Norwegian.

Although ligatures may seem to be things mostly from the past, there is a new trend to recreate them.

That’s why we use ligatures in even more word processing programs and font styles. 

Even typographers also tend to use them.

So, it is important to continue to use these fun little bits of writing history if you like the way they look and if your style guide allows it.

Common Ligatures

Some most widely used ligatures include the letter f paired with the most common located close letters “fi,” “ff,” and “fl.” 

Hence, several ligatures pair the letters with f, and Fi is an especially notable example. 

In certain typefaces, the “I” title merges with the hood of the “f” when put in a word next to each other and is fused into a single symbol with the headline absorbed into the f.

The ampersand (&) also is widely used nowadays. 

As the ampersand is no more known as a ligature by everyone.

It was originally formed as a ligature of the letters “e” and “t,” creating the term “et”, which itself is “and” in Latin.

Although ampersand is more often used in brand logos or conserve room on coverings of books, it is unacceptable in normal text.

Certain ligatures are far less widespread than some others, while these are unknown.

For example, the “i-j” ligature appears like a “y” with two dots over it, but the “s-t” combination doesn’t seem to save any room. 

The “a-e” and “o-e” without any of the rest of the word are just too identical to find out.

With even a cheat-sheet, the “f-s” is difficult to understand, so It might even be “j-3”.

Letters that are facing to the right when written as “b,” “o,” and “p” and those that are facing left as “c,” “e,” “o,” “d,” “g,” and “q” were written in blackletter.

This is done with superimposed bowl-facing sides.

Letters such as h, m, and n had their vertical strokes superimposed in many script types.

Stylistic Ligatures

Stylistic ligatures serve a more decorative function. 

They build ties between letters from a typographic or orthographic point of view.

They are not important but can make the font more interesting or varied.

Calligraphic guidelines inspire.

The Spanish peseta is sometimes symbolized by a ligature “₧” (from Pts), and the French franc is often symbolized by an “F-r” ligature (₣).

The dollar sign “$” may have started as a ligature but is now a logogram (for “pesos,” although there are other hypotheses as well).

Ligatures entering the morpheme boundary of a combined word are often considered wrong, especially as shown in the Duden in official German orthography. 

An English example of this would be ff in shelfful; Schifffahrt would be a German example (“boat trip”).

In addition to traditional ligatures, some newspapers commissioned custom simplified single forms in the metal type era for the famous long names in news captions.

The letters do not appear to be fused in these examples, only just a little bit more closely spaced than if they were conventionally printed.

On the one hand, you can freely use typographic styles to increase your publication’s impact to gain more attention. 

Still, on the other hand, you must be very careful with the ligatures.

This is because sometimes they can have a bad impact on the reader.

Especially when you visually mix the letters to the point where you will never understand what is written.

But as mentioned above, when you use ligature art wisely, it will give an attractive look to your words and word combinations.

Ligatures In Other Languages

In Germany and Austria, the German Eszett (also known as Scharfes S, meaning sharp “s”) ß is an official letter of the alphabet. 

Still, about its history, there is no global agreement. 

We just know that Its name Es-zett (meaning S-Z) indicates a long “s” and z” (ſʒ) relation. 

Still, another ligature of “long “s” over round s” (ſs) is also known in the Latin script and most of the modern typefaces. 

The latter is used as the design concept for that symbol just to make a visual change for an eye.

The umlauted vowels “ä,” “ö,” and “ü” have traditionally arisen from “ae,” “oe,” “ue” ligatures in German orthography.

Still, unfortunately, when the diacritics are inaccessible, for example, in an electronic conversation, messenger, or social media chat, it is common practice to change them with “ae,” “oe,” “ue” digraphs.

Ligatures for “st” (st), “ſt” (ſt), “ch”, “ck”, “ct”, “Qu”, and “Th” are also widely used.

Dotted and dotless “I” are differentiated by Turkish people. 

That difference will be blurred in a ligature with f (in terms such as fırın and fikir).

The use of the double-o ligature “ꝏ” to reflect the meaning of “oo” (/u/) of “food” as opposed to the “oo” (/ʊ/) of “hook” was a very popular feature of the colonial orthography.

This was provided by John Eliot (later they used it in the first Bible printed in the Americas, released in 1663).

When used in the Danish, Norwegian, or Icelandic languages, or Old English, the symbol Æ (lower case æ; called æsc in ancient times) is not a typographical ligature. 

It is a separate letter, a vowel, and is given a different position in the alphabetic order when alphabetized.

Ligatures Used In InDesign and Photoshop

Use OpenType fonts to store a much higher character range of fonts. 

That’s why you can use more than 16,000 characters in OpenType instead of 256. 

However, in daily work, typographers sometimes forget about the many extra features that can be introduced with the OpenType features. 

InDesign

InDesign may also be really helpful because it arranges through the role list all of the characters contained.

It does the job for you rather than looking for the right symbol in the glyph table by yourself.

You can access the specific function in the ‘OpenType’ group through the character palette menu bar. 

It will allow you to use many of the features given below that are available in the font. 

Still, some OpenType fonts use that only partially, not the character set or functions. 

One alert is in order here about the development in modern OpenType fonts.

The font designers put “Th” instead of the historical ligature set like “ct” in the regular ligature set.

You might need to specifically disable or allow them or select the correct symbol from the font set itself.

Every font type can have from one to twenty kinds of typography styles for the picked font. 

Adobe Photoshop

In Adobe Photoshop, the ligatures can simply be set in the “character” window.

Be cautious that the relevant fields are greyed out if the font does not accept any ligature styles.

You can even find ligature fonts for numbers, some special ligatures for other languages, combine fonts yourself, and fuse one letter to another.

It is even possible for you to fuse one word to another. 

You are free to combine, change, and create all the ligatures that ever come to your mind to make your letters and words look beautiful.

But what if you can make your font with your ligatures there?

What important thing should you pay attention to first?

What Should We Know Before Creating A Font?

The frequency of letter pairs is simply when alphabet letters appear together in written language on average.

In cryptograms and other word puzzle games, letter pair frequencies and frequency analysis play a fundamental role.

In pre-assigning space in physical files and indexes, the frequency of letter pairs of terms or names is helpful.

Knowing the frequency of character pairs in the English Language can progress you in making a font. 

Here’s why. 

If you want to make your font with ligatures, you must first acknowledge the most commonly used ligatures.

This refers to the most common letters that appear together.

Know the statistics, and then start to make the font.  

You will find a list of ligatures showing the frequency of character pairs in the English language here

So, you must note the least used character pair frequency.

Find the frequency of the exact letter pair that we use the most often.

Then create a proper and highly used ligature pair of those letters based on the information you have above.

Check it all again and make a new useful font. 

Depending on all these conditions, it is very important to know the most frequently used letter pairs.

You can then create a font that consists of a ligature based on this.

This is because nowadays, a good ligature is a key to an ad’s success, poster, logo, and other visual art.

So before making a font that has a ligature, ask yourself.

To ligature or not the certain letters and try to find the answer to your question.

Where Can We Use Ligatures?

The “œ” and “æ” ligatures were widely used to suggest an etymological association with Latin or Greek until the early twentieth century.

Since then, they have also entirely changed over the decades and are only ever seen rarely. 

All that said, there are probably moments when you want to ligature more or less than the default font offers if you just let it do so automatically. 

For example, if you faithfully replicate a rather old text style set with historical ligatures such as “st,” you’ll want to place those where that’s not done by default with the font.

However, when classifying ligatures as regular or historical, the font designer may not have done a historically precise job.

Aside from being creative and using ligatures in graphic design, you may opt to play with the letters and the words, fuse them, or change the space and constructions between.

Ligatures are historical symbols that we still use when we want to note a person’s name or a word that comes from ancient time.

To invoke archaism, or in literal quotations of ancient writings, we use them more generally for historical persons’ names.

In certain Scandinavian languages, these ligatures are real letters.

They can use them to make names and words in those languages and from Old English as well.

Some American spellings change a single letter with ligatured vowels.

The ligatures of fl and fi, among others, are still widely used in fine typography to render modern text.

It is possible to configure page layout programs like QuarkXPress and Adobe InDesign to automatically change individual characters with suitable ligatures. 

This is indeed a typographic attribute and not an element of the spelling.

The full list of names and words that we spell with a ligature is here.

Other Kinds Of Ligature

In the general case, digraphs such as “ll” in Spanish or Welsh are not ligatures since the two letters are shown as independent symbols.

Although written together, the base form of the letters is not modified once they are connected in handwritten or italic fonts.

The individual symbols stay separate. 

Like other ligatures mentioned above in their native tongues, these digraphs may or may not be named independent letters.

Digraphs “ch” and “ll” were treated as separate letters in Spanish for collation reasons before the 1994 pronunciation reform. 

Catalan distinguishes among “Spanish ll” or palatalized “l,” written “ll” as in llei (law), and “French ll” or geminate “l,” written “l·l” as in col·lega (colleague). 

The French digraph “œu,” genuinely constructed of the ligature “œ” and the simplex letter “u,” may demonstrate the difference.

However, the Dutch “IJ” is certainly much vaguer. 

It can be called a digraph, a ligature, or a letter in itself, depending on its format.

Its capital letters and lowercase letters variants are also accessible in many professional fonts as a singular glyph with a distinctive ligature. 

Sans serif uppercase “IJ” glyphs, common in the Netherlands, usually choose a ligature with a split left-hand stroke forming an actual “U.”

So, after all of these, we can say that two types of ligatures are essential. 

Reasons For Having Ligatures

The reason why there are ligatures is to avoid spaces between certain letters that might interrupt the flow of reading.

For example, some “fi” fonts overlap with each other or “fl” in particular.

Ligatures were created to find a solution to this issue, each being just one symbol on the type block

Second reason is that period type designers used ligatures to “fancy-up” their fonts.

They did this by highlighting important ligatures to the font, which improves the font’s quality but not always the legibility.

If you want to give your font a special flavor, use the ligatures as you want.

But be mindful that audiences will note if you use strange ligatures, which will potentially distract them from the actual design argument. 

Final Thoughts

It makes sense to distinguish between typographic and orthographic ligatures whenever one speaks of ligatures.

If one discusses the technological implementation or the presentation of a ligature, it is also worth pointing out.

An alphabet letter is specified in terms of orthography, not in terms of appearance or technical implementation.

The simplest piece of advice for ligatures to adopt is – to use ligatures because they have a nice style.

In some situations, they’re showy.

But be attentive and don’t go crazy.

Far too many ligatures, especially in long quantities of text, come across rather over the top.

If you intend to change the text’s overall letter-size containing these variations, use ligatures with caution. 

Since a ligature is a single character when you delete or enable the spacing of letters, its internal spacing will not vary. 

Most design applications would change ligatures with the original single symbol to preserve clear spacing while using extreme monitoring.

Ligatures are one of the many factors that you can use to increase your audience’s enjoyment and make it exciting. 

We hope that this article on ways to use list of ligatures is helpful.

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