No products in the cart.

No products in the cart.

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 spoken and written language.

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 the 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

A most widely used list of ligatures includes the letter f paired with the most commonly 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.

They are fused into a single symbol with the headline linked with the f.

People also use the ampersand (&) widely nowadays. 

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

The ampersand came to be as a ligature of the letters “e” and “t,” creating the term “et”, which itself is “and” in Latin.

Although people use the ampersand more frequently in brand logos or to conserve room on the coverings of books, it is unacceptable in normal text.

Certain ligatures are far less widespread than 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 words 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”.

Some letters that people wrote facing to the right are “b,” “o,” and “p”.

People wrote the following letters facing left: “c,” “e,” “o,” “d,” “g,” and “q.” 

One does this with superimposed bowl-facing sides.

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

Stylistic Ligatures

The stylistic list of ligatures serves 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.

At times, people symbolized the Spanish peseta as 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.

This is especially true 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 are not 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.

List of 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.

The list of ligatures that include “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.

List of 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 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 of 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 with 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?

The Role of Ligatures in Modern Typography

Ligatures have played a significant role in typography for centuries.

Originally, ligatures were necessary to save space on the page and prevent letters from colliding with one another.

However, with advancements in printing technology and digital typography, ligatures have become less essential.

Despite this, many modern designers still incorporate ligatures into their work as a way to add visual interest and enhance the overall look of their typography.

The Role of Ligatures in Modern Typography

In modern typography, ligatures are often used to add a touch of elegance or sophistication to a design.

By combining certain letters, designers can create unique shapes and forms that catch the eye and add a level of visual interest to the text.

For example, a designer might use a ligature to combine the letters “f” and “i” in a word like “life” to create a flowing, elegant shape that draws the reader’s eye.

Ligatures are also commonly used in logotype design, where the focus is on creating a unique and recognizable brand identity.

Ligatures in Logotype Design: Creating Unique Brand Identities

By incorporating ligatures into a logo, designers can create a distinctive shape that stands out from other logos in the same industry.

For example, the logo for the fashion brand Chanel features a distinctive interlocking “C” shape that is achieved through the use of a ligature.

In addition to their visual appeal, ligatures can also serve a functional purpose in modern typography.

For example, in certain typefaces, combining certain letters using a ligature can help improve the overall legibility of the text.

This is especially true for scripts or decorative typefaces, where letterforms can often clash or overlap with one another.

By using ligatures, designers can ensure that each letter is clearly defined and easy to read.

Using Ligatures Effectively: Striking a Balance Between Aesthetics and Functionality

Of course, not all ligatures are created equal, and some designers use them more effectively than others.

To use ligatures effectively, designers must have a good understanding of typography and the principles of design.

They must also be able to strike a balance between functionality and aesthetics, ensuring that the ligatures they use enhance the readability of the text rather than hindering it.

While ligatures may no longer be essential in modern typography, they continue to play an important role in the world of design.

Whether used for their visual appeal or functional benefits, ligatures remain a powerful tool in the designer’s arsenal.

By incorporating ligatures into their work, modern designers can add a level of sophistication and elegance to their typography.

Moreover, they are able to create designs that are both visually stunning and highly effective.

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 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?

Know when your list of ligatures will come in handy.

In this way, you’ll be able to use them appropriately and correctly.

Ligatures Used to Suggest Etymological Associations

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 as Historical Symbols

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

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 Ligatures

In the general list of ligatures, 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 the 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

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

They did this by highlighting important ligatures in 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 as 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.

A list of ligatures is one of the many factors that you can use as a reference to increase your audience’s enjoyment and make it exciting. 

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

For more helpful articles like this one on the list of ligatures, you may want to check the articles below.

Information Architecture vs Sitemap: What’s The Difference?

10 Best UX Research Books

10 Best Illustration Brushes For Procreate (Free and Paid Options)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back To Top