Ligatures: Always necessary?

Graphirus's picture

Hi everybody,

While kerning my latest font I have noticed that some traditional ligature pairs (fi, fl, ff, and so on) do not look that bad without the ligature, so I wonder if it's always necessary to make them or not. Also, is there like a standard for defining when a ligature is necessary or not?? It may be that what looks acceptable to me may look like a total abomination to someone else, so I'd like to play safe.


froo's picture

I think the ligatures were an attempt to solve the problems caused by the shape of the letter f. So if your pairs "do not look that bad" without the ligature, or if the ligatures would look worse than these pairs - I wouldn't make them... Anyway, some typefaces have ligatures fi,fl, of the same width as f i, f l (so it is not a sort of design necessity but rather a nod to tradition). Some other have ligatures that look much worse (introduce much more chaos into spacing) than the components... I am always in debt, thinking of, and testing ligatures.

Graphirus's picture

Hi froo, thanks for your comment.
You are right when you mention that ligatures where created to solve problems with lc f, and in my case, as I already mentioned, I don't see that many problems "yet".

Here is a screenshot of how the pairs ff and ffl currently look like in my font. ff looks good to me, ffl is needing some tightening, specially the fl pair that has too much air. Of course I could make tracking tighter, but I don't know yet, that's why some other typographer's opinions are valuable to me )

Frode Bo Helland's picture

Even if they don’t collide, it’s good practive to include the basic ligatures. It’s somewhat backwards-compatible: Some users may employ hard-coded ligatures in their text. I’m not sure how necessary it is these days though.

Graphirus's picture

Frode, by basic ligatures you mean U-FB01 and U-FB02?

Frode Bo Helland's picture

fi and fl, at least.

Graphirus's picture

That is what I though )

timd's picture

I would say that ff is a little tight compared to er or nc, but rather than the characters joining you could make the first f crossbar slightly shorter or maybe lop off/reduce the lefthand bar on the second f.


Luma Vine's picture

To my eye is is not so much the 'air' but the visual tension created when the terminals almost touch. In that respect, your sample could use a lot of improvement that may be provided by ligating those pairs.

Graphirus's picture

I totally agree with you Luma, f along with long ascender letters are the ligatures that NEED to be present on my font. ff and others, I-m still evaluating.

froo's picture

Introducing ligatures would be an improvement here. Without ligatures, you would need to change the shape of the f.

hrant's picture

Or you could change the "f" when it's before a tittle.


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