Summary: A ligature is created when two or more letters 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.

There are two methods for using ligatures:

The legacy method supports standard ligatures such as fi and fl in PostScript fonts.

The OpenType method, allows access to both standard ligatures and discretionary ligatures in OpenType fonts. [Both methods are applied as character attributes, meaning that you can apply them to any selected text.]

  • To apply ligatures to selected text using the legacy method, check Enable Ligatures on the Character tab of the Measurements palette (Window menu) or check Ligatures in the Character Attributes dialog box (Style > Character).

  • To apply ligatures to selected text using the OpenType method, select text that uses an OpenType and then choose Standard Ligatures from the OpenType menu on the Classic or Character tab of the Measurements palette (Window menu). This will apply ligatures such as fi, fl, ff, ffi, ffl, fj, ffj, and th — if they are built into the font. In addition, you can choose Discretionary Ligatures to apply rare ligatures such as ct, sp, st, and fh. If either ligature option displays in brackets, the OpenType font in use does not support those ligature features. You can also check Standard Ligatures and Discretionary Ligatures in the OpenType area of the Character Attributes dialog box.

Important Note: You have to use an OpenType Font that actually contains Ligatures. You can check which Font contains OpenType Ligatures in the Glyph palette by selecting the Font from the Font popup menu, and then selecting Standard Ligature or Discretionary Ligature from the popup menu below it but you will have to select a Font that actually contains OpenType Ligatures to see Standard Ligature or Discretionary Ligature in the popup. Additionally, any OpenType feature you can select from the Measurement palette which is NOT available in the Font that is applied to the selected text will be in Square Brackets.

Ligature Preferences:

One can set preferences for ligatures by navigating to QuarkXPress/Edit > Preferences > Print Layout > Character:

  • Break Above: The value in the field specifies a tracking or kerning value above which ligatures will break apart. At the default value of 1, if you track text +1, the ligatures revert to standard letters.

  • Not 'ffi' or 'ffl': Check this box to prevent fi and fl ligatures in words such as 'office' or 'waffle' when ffi and ffl ligatures do not exist in the current font.

Below are the steps to make Ligatures always ON:

  1. Launch QuarkXPress.

  2. With no document open, navigate to Window>Style Sheets.

  3. Edit the Normal Style Sheet and Check Enable Ligatures. From now, ligatures will always be ON.