I hate the "Th" ligature!

Greenpig's picture

I understand the logic behind the "Th" ligature, of course, and I've tried my best to get used to it, but frankly, I can't stand it. Not only is it typographically unidiomatic (so that it always looks a little like a mistake -- and indeed, people often say, "something's wrong with your printer!" when they see it), but it's also just ugly. In the "f" ligatures, the f's curve flows neatly into the following letter, but the rectilinear collision of T and h doesn't create a natural join: it usually looks like they've just been tightly tracked to overlap. The net effect for me is oddly runic, and I'd rather not have it in the books I'm setting.

Moreover, it's a PITA to work around: you have to do a find and replace and deal with any reflow that arises, which pretty much necessitates doing the F&R on a case-by-case basis. In a 250-page book, that's a whole lot of clicking the Change/Find button.

How do you work around this? Or am I the only one who hates this ligature?

piccic's picture

@quadibloc: Yes, the problem does not seem simple design choices per se, which involve the addition of ligatures that I personally see as a lack of economy, but the automatic substitution set by default on software. There are also text-intensive faces with an [f] form which makes the need of [f_i] and [f–l] an optional.

JanekZ's picture

Would you like [f] this way?:

First two [f] are f.alternate, last "ordinary"
And NN as an icing on the cake ;)
[this font is a traditional text face http://typophile.com/node/73413 ]

brianskywalker's picture

So, if you do a Th and a Tk and Tb ligature, why not do a Tl ligature? Would it be correct to to do the others and leave l out?

charles ellertson's picture

Just curious. Everyone is talking about a letter pair, and not about words. I would have thought the original reason for the ligature is that what usually follows the Th (in English, anyway) is a lower-case letter, usually a vowel, frequently an "e."

The problem is one of spacing. Easy enough to avoid spacing problems with T and h -- change the design of the "T", or change the spacing of the font. Oh. Consequences. T's with very short crossbars don't look quite right. The modern aesthetic is for tight spacing of letters.

I've seen any number of fonts where kerning with the capital T created a rather ugly blob. Admittedly, this is most common with the "i" as opposed to the "h", but you can find "h" examples too.

As with most problems, solutions involve compromises. I prefer the Th ligature to the "kern into an ugly blob" solution. The "let the extra space fall where it may" solution has proponents, and does make life easier -- editors, who often have the final say, won't mark it "P.E. touching" because it is a ligature. But this is offset by the query from designers (graphic designers) who write "Can't you do something about this?"

Compositors understand compromises, it's their business. A lonely business, it seems . . .


It just occurred to me, If you do Nick's last name with a lowercase double-n ligature, it becomes "Shim." Just what you need when things are a bit too loose . . .

Nick Shinn's picture

However, be wary of too much keming …

Bendy's picture

Thanks for an interesting thread. Funnily enough it's reminded me to keep such ligatures discretionary — at least in a sans face which seems to need more 'separation' between characters...

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