Liga-WHAT? What the heck are these funny little characters and where did they come from? I’ve gathered up some brief history and lovely examples of ligatures in use!

A Brief History

In writing and typography, a ligature occurs where two or more graphemes are joined as a single glyph. Ligatures usually replace consecutive characters sharing common components, and are part of a more general class of glyphs called “contextual forms” where the specific shape of a letter depends on context such as surrounding letters or proximity to the end of a line.

Uh…what the heck does that mean…speak english please?

Well, it all boils down to this: a long time ago (think: midevil times) ligatures were used to save space and increase writing speed. Scribes were scribblin as fast as they could and paper was expensive thus the typographic invention! After the printing press was invented ligatures were widely popular, until the Mr. Sans Serif came onto the scene with all his streamlined non-serifness.


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Ligatures are a way to fix what kerning can’t do. You know those awkward spaces that happen with every font (especially the FL and FI combinations).

Check out these stunning examples of ligatures in action.

Ligatures on the web

Go ahead…select the text below…ligatures as web test – who knew?

Æ æ Œ œ ß ff fi fl ffi ffl ſt st

The lost ligatures of Avant Garde


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Mrs Eaves has some beautiful ligatures as well.

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This guy is committed to this ligature…for life… WTF!!! :)

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Oh Garamond, such a sexy font with sexy ligatures.

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Apple also has a thing for ligatures, check out the lovely ffl combo!

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Nice ST combo on this post logo.
Not sure what country this is from – any help?

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Mmmm great beer and ligatures, good combination no? :)

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Not a ligature that you see to often, but damn this zy combo is nice!

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Nice little ss combo, almost a monogram.

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Letterpress + ligatures of the CT variety = a match made in heaven!


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Some of these may not be ligatures, but they are still great letter combination :)

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Is it just me or do non-english languages have more beautiful ligatures? This  ir combination is lovely!

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An interesting BH combination!


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More lovely ligature links

An interesting thread on Typophile on the creation of new ligatures and symbols for internet speal (lol wtf brb etc)

Our Friend the Ligature – a brief overview of the history of the ligature

What is your favorite ligature?

Leave a comment and let me know what your fav ligature is. Post a link to an image and ill include it in this post!