Add ligatures


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Text massage
Line length

Without ligatures
The letters f-i and f-l overlap.

With ligatures
The f-i ligature is a separate character. So is the f-l ligature

In the old days, ligatures were a necessity. Metal type looked terrible without them. The text had light patches, because some letter combinations didn't fit snugly together. The worst involved the f. Ligatures, character combinations on one piece of type, were used to avoid this problem. They aren't absolutely essential anymore, but certainly add a touch of grace.
    Extended character sets with ligatures are available for most text typefaces worth their salt. Use them.

And finally...
Look through a few books. Joseph Blumenthal's The Art of the Printed Book 1455 to 1955 is not a bad place to start. Neither is The Typographic Book by Stanley Morison and Kenneth Day. You can get them on inter-library loan. Select pages that you admire. Recreate them as accurately as your equipment will allow: you can learn a lot by imitation. Close scrutiny is the best way I know of acquiring a trained eye.
    Learn the rules, and follow them the best you can. Not many people do. You'll be one of the masters.

These notes were first used as an addendum to Ari Davidow's desktop publishing course at the New School in New York. They were also published in Computers and Typography, edited by Rosemary Sassoon, in 1993.



Copyright © 2001 Gunnlaugur SE Briem. All rights reserved. Updated 01 May 2003