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Subject: Re: Are ligatures archaic?
From: Tim Rolands <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:TYPO-L Discussion of Type and Typographic Design <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Tue, 9 Apr 1996 08:54:00 -0500
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>1) Do you use ligatures in your typesetting work? If so, why? If not, why
>not?
 
I always use the f- ligatures. Most of my work consists of book
typography, and the text faces I use generally benefit from the ligatures
(i.e., better color).
 
>2) Do think ligatures in body text are archaic? They were necessary for
>mechanical typesetting reasons (not readability)--but now with digital type
>these mechanical reasons no longer apply. Certain ligatures have already
>disappeared from common use (such as "st" "ch" and "ct"), so is it time to
>lose "ff" "fl" "fi" "ffi" and "ffl"?
 
I don't think the f- ligatures are archaic, though the others probably
are. And I think they are important for readability, not mechanical
reasons.
 
>3) When you read, are you offended if you see an "fi," or "fl" "ff" that
>aren't a ligature? Do you even *notice?* When was the last time you looked
>at a page and thought, "Ah, no ligatures?"
 
Well, not offended, but I notice, and it certainly turns me off to see an
f overlapping an l or i. The use of f- ligatures can make the difference
between good typesetting and inferior typesetting.
 
>4) Do you ever notice when ligatures become obvious and appear "too close"
>when the rest of the text has added letterspacing (see "Stop Stealing
>Sheep."?
 
Yes, this can be a problem. However, overlapping letters represent a far
more common problem.
 
>5) Do you ever find ligatures slowing down readers with limited reading
>skills because when the letters touch they form combined shapes that are
>less distinctive.
 
I don't think I'm qualified to judge the effects of ligatures on limited
reading skills. I suspect ligatures would be less problematic than
unintended overlapping letters.
 
>6) As more and more type is read off a computer or television screen,
>places where characters that touch _can_ cause real readability problems,
>that the use of ligatures will further decrease?
 
Yes, I think the use of ligatures will decrease--out of typographical
ignorance and because of changes in typefaces (a narrow f doesn't need
ligatures). But I don't think their use *should* decrease. For example,
I'm not convinced ligatures cause real readability problems on screens.
 
Well, there you have it. Quote me if you'd like.
 
Tim

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