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Ligatures are two or more characters fused together to form a single character for aesthetic reasons. I have highlighted them in cyan just so that we can see them more clearly. On the left-hand side we are not using ligatures, and on the right-hand side we are. On the left-hand side we can see that the F and the I collide, and likewise, the F and the lowercase L join in a rather unfortunate way. So that's why the two most common ligatures that we have, as part of our standard character set, are lowercase FI, lowercase FL.
We also have FFI and FFL. Should we decide to turn Ligatures on or off, we can do so from the panel menu, of the Control panel, and when I turn them on we can see that fixes the problem right there. Now I'm going to move over and look at this particular instance, where we see this is an alternative to using ligatures. Ligatures in bolder copy are usually a preferable thing with Serif typefaces, but if you are creating some sort of display treatment at large sizes, you may find that using a ligature for the first two characters makes those two characters, the FI, seemingly visually too close together.
And I think we can see that here where it looks like the space between I and the C is too much. Now I can't kern space between the F and the I, or as soon as I do the ligature breaks apart. So instead what I could consider is replacing the I with a dotless I, which is part of our character set. We will find it in the Glyphs panel. It's a little bit hard to find. You will need to do some searching for it, but it is there somewhere, and if we come all the way down to the accented characters, we should see right there we have the dotless I. So you can just double-click to insert that at the point of your cursor.
And then what I have done here is I have just adjusted the kerning between the individual characters, and these now are individual characters, so we have the option of doing that. So a very specific case, but if you do find yourself with some tricky letter spacing, caused by a ligature, perhaps using a dotless I could be a solution. I should also point out that ligatures can be incorporated into any paragraph style through the basic character formats using this check box.
Now for the most part, ligatures are a good idea, and these are the standard OpenType ligatures as well as the FLL, FFL that I have already mentioned. We also have TH and FF. But if you are working with Sans-serif type a ligature may be unnecessary, and that is the case here. Where I have Futura--and Futura is fine without your ligatures turned on-- there is no need for ligatures turned on because the F and the I don't come into collision.
In fact, if you do turn ligatures on, as I have done here, it can look a little bit odd, and rather affected, and rather out of sync with the aesthetics of the font. So while for the most part we'll want ligatures turned on, not necessarily always. And we also have this additional category of ligature called the discretionary ligature, available in some OpenType Pro fonts. Minion Pro is one such font that has several discretionary ligatures. To turn them on we would need to come up to the OpenType menu. Any of the OpenType features that do not have square brackets surrounding them are available for that particular font.
If I turn on discretionary ligatures, that's how it's going to look, if I want to see what my discretionary ligatures are for my font, I can come to my Glyphs panel, and filter my view to just view the discretionary ligatures, and those are the ones available in Minion Pro. So there we see several issues relating to ligatures starting out with their definition, but also times when you may want to not use ligatures, preferring instead to use a dotless I, and times when working with Sans-serif typefaces where ligatures may not be necessary.
And also those special occasion discretionary ligatures, when you have that fancy wedding invitation to design.
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