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Is there a key combo for the ff ligature? I know option-shift-5 for fi and option-shift-6 for fl. Are their any others?
Christoper - Access to further ligatures are dependent on both their inclusion and placement by the type designer. If they have been included then you can look them up through Key Caps and find the corresponding keystroke. Any ligatures beyond fi and fl are small typographic gifts.
Thanks. I realized the second I posted that I had an old friend called key caps. This is my second bonehead post this week. Apologies. Are you the same Eric Olson who did the Architects and Heroes identity?
Christopher - I'm not. Must be another Eric Olson. There are millions of us!
Even better than Keycaps is the ITC Character Chooser. Displays every glyph in a given face at 18 and 36 points, and lets you copy and paste the characters into another program. It also shows the key combination. Hmmm... seems they're calling it the Fontek Character Chooser these days. Don't let that dissuade you from downloading this utility. (Mac OS9 only, as far as I know.) http://www.itcfonts.com/support/utilities.asp?sid=HM6THHFVJQTL9KQ5RCRJVUKSPD9FCET7&sec=sup
If you're a Mac user, you should look at PopChar (OS 9) or PopChar X. This is one of my absolute must-have utilities; I've been using it since the early 1990s. PopChar installs a little icon in your menu bar, whose menu shows every character in the selected font. All characters are shown in the actual typeface, and at the size you selected in your preferences. If you're typing and forget or don't know a particular keystroke, simply select that character from PopChar's menu and it will be inserted into your text just as though you had typed it. PopChar will also show you the correct keystroke and ASCII code in a little information bar, so you can learn and remember it. Since PopChar is always in your menu bar, you can access it from any program without leaving that program; you don't need to switch to another utility. Depending on the program, PopChar sometimes has trouble determining which font you have selected, but if this happens, you can manually change the font PopChar displays by using a little submenu. Pop Char is also very handy for simply looking at all the characters in a font; it's especially nice for things like expert fonts, and you can also explore all the keystrokes. Whenever I get a new typeface, especially if it has an expert set or dingbats, the first thing I'll do is look at it with PopChar. You can also click on a sequence of characters and have them set in a little text field and then cut and paste them, but it's much easier to simply select them directly and let PopChar set them. http://www.macility.com/products/index.html By the way, f ligatures other than fi and fl are almost always packaged in a separate font as part of an expert set, so you won't find them by looking in the main text font. Different manufacturers bundle expert sets in different ways. Sometimes there is a little font that just contains ligatures and other alternate characters, sometimes ligatures, small caps, figures for fractions, and other goodies are together, but you usually don't get all the f ligatures (fi fl ff ffi ffl) unless you buy the expert set.
you usually don't get all the f ligatures (fi fl ff ffi ffl) unless you buy the expert set. Some foundries do include these in the main font. Storm certainly does, at least in Plagwitz and Monarchia.
On Character Chooser and Popchar: They are both very useful. You should determine which works best for you. Popchar may be disturbing in terms of extension conflicts under Os9, while Chooser coud be used as a standalone application and put in the Apple menu. I've used the demo of Popchar Pro for OsX and it's great anyway. Try both. Character Chooser is free.
Ligatures: John is right, it depends on the designer, as far as we are talking of pre-Opentype formats. My Reality (from Thirstype) includes even an rt ligature (as well as st and ct), an oddity to increase the contrast between the "displeasing" feel of the face (fostered by my personal malaise at the time, circa 1996) and my taste for classical typography. The spacing of the commercial version is messed up anyway. Even if they have sold nothing I would like to find the time to fix the spacing of the faces I care most about.