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In
writing Writing is a medium of human communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area arou ...

writing
and
typography Typography is the art and technique of arranging type to make written language A written language is the representation of a spoken or gestural language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including ...

typography
, a ligature occurs where two or more
grapheme In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most langu ...

grapheme
s or letters are joined to form a single
glyph The term glyph is used in typography Typography is the art and technique of arranging type to make written language A written language is the representation of a spoken or gestural language A language is a structured system o ...
. Examples are the characters
æ
æ
and œ used in English and French, in which the letters 'a' and 'e' are joined for the first ligature and the letters 'o' and 'e' are joined for the second ligature. For stylistic and legibility reasons, 'f' and 'i' are often merged to create 'fi' (where the
tittle A tittle or superscript dot is a small distinguishing mark, such as a diacritic in the form of a dot on a lowercase ''i'' or ''j''. The tittle is an integral part of the glyph of ''i'' and ''j'', but dot (diacritic), diacritic dots can appear o ...
on the 'i' merges with the hood of the 'f'); the same is true of 's' and 't' to create 'st'. The common
ampersand The ampersand, also known as the and sign, is the logogram In a written language A written language is the representation of a spoken or gestural language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, includi ...

ampersand
(&) developed from a ligature in which the handwritten Latin letters 'e' and 't' (spelling ,
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...

Latin
for 'and') were combined.


History

The earliest known script
Sumerian cuneiform Cuneiform is a logo- syllabic script that was used to write several languages of the Ancient Near East The ancient Near East was the home of early civilization A civilization (or civilisation) is any complex society that is charac ...
and
Egyptian Egyptian describes something of, from, or related to Egypt. Egyptian or Egyptians may refer to: Nations and ethnic groups * Egyptians, a national group in North Africa ** Egyptian culture, a complex and stable culture with thousands of years of r ...
hieratic Hieratic (; grc, ἱερατικά, hieratiká, priestly) is the name given to a cursive Cursive (also known as script, among other names) is any style of penmanship Penmanship is the technique of writing Writing is a medium of hu ...
both include many cases of character combinations that gradually evolve from ligatures into separately recognizable characters. Other notable ligatures, such as the
Brahmic The Brahmic scripts, also known as Indic scripts, are a family of abugida writing systems. They are used throughout the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia and parts of East Asia, including Japan in the form of Siddhaṃ script, Siddhaṃ. T ...
abugida An abugida (, from Ge'ez language, Ge'ez: አቡጊዳ), sometimes known as alphasyllabary, neosyllabary or pseudo-alphabet, is a segmental Writing systems#Segmental writing system, writing system in which consonant-vowel sequences are writt ...
s and the
Germanic Germanic may refer to: * Germanic peoples, an ethno-linguistic group identified by their use of the Germanic languages ** List of ancient Germanic peoples and tribes * Germanic languages :* Proto-Germanic language, a reconstructed proto-language of ...

Germanic
bind rune A bind rune ( is, bandrún) is a ligature of two or more runes. They are extremely rare in Viking Age inscriptions, but are common in earlier ( Proto-Norse) and later (medieval) inscriptions.Enoksen, Lars Magnar (1998). ''Runor: historia, tydni ...
, figure prominently throughout ancient manuscripts. These new glyphs emerge alongside the proliferation of writing with a stylus, whether on
paper Paper is a thin sheet material Material is a substance Substance may refer to: * Substance (Jainism), a term in Jain ontology to denote the base or owner of attributes * Chemical substance, a material with a definite chemical composition ...
or
clay Clay is a type of fine-grained natural soil Surface-water- gley developed in glacial till, Northern Ireland.">Northern_Ireland.html" ;"title="glacial till, Northern Ireland">glacial till, Northern Ireland. Soil is a mixture of organic m ...
, and often for a practical reason: faster
handwriting Handwriting is the writing Writing is a medium of human communication that involves the representation of a language with written symbols. Writing systems are not themselves human languages (with the debatable exception of computer languag ...

handwriting
. Merchants especially needed a way to speed up the process of written communication and found that conjoining letters and abbreviating words for lay use was more convenient for record keeping and transaction than the bulky long forms. Around the 9th and 10th centuries, monasteries became a fountainhead for these type of script modifications. Medieval scribes who wrote in
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...

Latin
increased their writing speed by combining characters and by introducing notational abbreviations. Others conjoined letters for aesthetic purposes. For example, in
blackletter Blackletter (sometimes black letter), also known as Gothic script, Gothic minuscule, or Textura, was a script used throughout Western Europe from approximately 1150 until the 17th century. It continued to be commonly used for the Danish languag ...

blackletter
, letters with right-facing bowls (b, o, and p) and those with left-facing bowls (c, e, o, d, g and q) were written with the facing edges of the bowls superimposed. In many script forms, characters such as h, m, and n had their vertical strokes superimposed. Scribes also used notational abbreviations to avoid having to write a whole character in one stroke. Manuscripts in the fourteenth century employed hundreds of such abbreviations. In
handwriting Handwriting is the writing Writing is a medium of human communication that involves the representation of a language with written symbols. Writing systems are not themselves human languages (with the debatable exception of computer languag ...

handwriting
, a ligature is made by joining two or more characters in an atypical fashion by merging their parts, or by writing one above or inside the other. In printing, a ligature is a group of characters that is typeset as a unit, so the characters do not have to be joined. For example, in some cases the fi ligature prints the letters f and i with a greater separation than when they are typeset as separate letters. When printing with movable type was invented around 1450, typefaces included many ligatures and additional letters, as they were based on handwriting. Ligatures made printing with movable type easier because one block would replace frequent combinations of letters and also allowed more complex and interesting character designs which would otherwise collide with one another. Ligatures began to fall out of use because of their complexity in the 20th century. Sans serif typefaces, increasingly used for body text, generally avoid ligatures, though notable exceptions include
Gill Sans Gill Sans is a designed by and released by the British branch of from 1928 onwards. Gill Sans is based on 's 1916 , the corporate font of . As a young artist, Gill had assisted Johnston in its early development stages. In 1926, , a young p ...
and Futura. Inexpensive
phototypesetting Phototypesetting is a method of setting type, rendered obsolete with the popularity of the personal computer and desktop publishing software, that uses a photographic process to generate columns of type on a scroll of photographic paper. The ...
machines in the 1970s (which did not require
journeyman A journeyman is a worker, skilled in a given building trade or craft A craft or trade is a pastime or an occupation that requires particular skills and knowledge of skilled work. In a historical sense, particularly the Middle Ages ...

journeyman
knowledge or training to operate) also generally avoid them. A few, however, became characters in their own right, see below the sections about German ß, various Latin accented letters, & et al.. The trend against digraph use was further strengthened by the desktop publishing revolution starting around 1977 with the production of the Apple II. Early computer software in particular had no way to allow for ligature substitution (the automatic use of ligatures where appropriate), while most new digital typefaces did not include ligatures. As most of the early PC development was designed for the English language (which already treated ligatures as optional at best) dependence on ligatures did not carry over to digital. Ligature use fell as the number of traditional hand compositors and
hot metal typesetting In printing Printing is a process for mass reproducing text and images An Synthetic aperture radar, SAR radar imaging, radar image acquired by the SIR-C/X-SAR radar on board the Space Shuttle Endeavour shows the Teide volcano. The ci ...
machine operators dropped because of the mass production of the IBM Selectric brand of electric typewriter in 1961. A designer active in the period commented: "some of the world's greatest typefaces were quickly becoming some of the world's worst fonts." Ligatures have grown in popularity in the 21st century because of an increasing interest in creating typesetting systems that evoke arcane designs and classical scripts. One of the first computer typesetting programs to take advantage of computer-driven typesetting (and later laser printers) was
Donald Knuth Donald Ervin Knuth ( ; born January 10, 1938) is an American computer scientist A computer scientist is a person who has acquired the knowledge of computer science Computer science deals with the theoretical foundations of information, ...
's
TeX TeX (, see below), stylized within the system as TeX, is a typesetting system which was designed and mostly written by Donald Knuth and released in 1978. TeX is a popular means of typesetting complex mathematical formulae; it has been noted ...
program. Now the standard method of mathematical typesetting, its default fonts are explicitly based on nineteenth-century styles. Many new fonts feature extensive ligature sets; these include
FF Scala FF Scala is an Serif#Old-style, old-style serif typeface designed by Dutch typeface designer Martin Majoor in 1991 for the Muziekcentrum Vredenburg in Utrecht (city), Utrecht, the Netherlands. The FF Scala font family was named for the Teatro alla ...

FF Scala
, Seria and others by
Martin Majoor Martin Majoor (born ) is a Netherlands, Dutch type designer and graphic designer. As of 2006, he had worked since 1997 in both Arnhem, Netherlands and Warsaw, Poland. Biography Early life Majoor was born in 1960 in the town of Baarn, in the P ...

Martin Majoor
and
Hoefler Text Hoefler Text is an old-style serif In typography Typography is the art and technique of arranging type to make written language A written language is the representation of a spoken or gestural language A language is a stru ...
by
Jonathan Hoefler Hoefler Text, a serif typeface designed by Hoefler in 1991.">serif.html" ;"title="Hoefler Text, a serif">Hoefler Text, a serif typeface designed by Hoefler in 1991. Jonathan Hoefler (; born August 22, 1970) is an American typeface designer. Hoe ...

Jonathan Hoefler
.
Mrs Eaves Mrs Eaves is a transitional serif In , a serif () is a small line or stroke regularly attached to the end of a larger stroke in a letter or symbol within a particular or family of fonts. A or "font family" making use of serifs is called a s ...
by
Zuzana Licko Zuzana Licko (born Zuzana Ličko, 1961) is a Slovak-born American type designer and visual artist known for co-founding Emigre (type foundry), Emigre Fonts, a digital type foundry in Berkeley, California, Berkeley, CA. She has designed and produce ...
contains a particularly large set to allow designers to create dramatic display text with a feel of antiquity. A parallel use of ligatures is seen in the creation of script fonts that join letterforms to simulate handwriting effectively. This trend is caused in part by the increased support for other languages and alphabets in modern computing, many of which use ligatures somewhat extensively. This has caused the development of new digital typesetting techniques such as
OpenType OpenType is a format for scalable computer font A computer font (or font) is implemented as a digital data file containing a set of graphically related glyphs, characters, or symbols such as dingbats. Although the term ''font'' first referr ...
, and the incorporation of ligature support into the text display systems of
macOS macOS (; previously Mac OS X and later OS X) is a proprietary {{Short pages monitor There are separate code points for the digraph Dz (digraph), DZ, the Dutch language, Dutch digraph IJ (digraph), IJ, and for the Gaj's Latin Alphabet#Digraphs, Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian digraphs DŽ, LJ, and NJ. Although similar, these are digraph (orthography), digraphs, not ligatures. See Digraph (orthography)#In Unicode, Digraphs in Unicode. ; Ligatures used only in phonetic transcription : Four "ligature ornaments" are included from U+1F670 to U+1F673 in the Ornamental Dingbats block: regular and bold variants of ℯT (script e and T) and of ɛT (open E and T).


Contemporary art

Typographic ligatures are used in a form of contemporary art, as can be illustrated by Chinese artist Xu Bing's work in which he combines Latin letters to form characters that resemble Chinese.


See also

*Complex text layout *Kerning *Letter-spacing *Scribal abbreviations (Roman and medieval abbreviations used to save space in manuscripts and epigraphs) *List of words that may be spelled with a ligature *Monogram *Sigla *Greek ligatures


Notes and References


Notes


References


External links


Examples of CSS ligatures
{{Typography terms Latin-script ligatures, Palaeography Typographic ligatures, Typography