Ligatures and Stylistic Effects in Microsoft Word


Jason Morrell

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Ligatures and stylistic effects. Strange terms. 

What are they?

Who uses them?

Where can you find them in Microsoft Word and what do they do?

1. Ligatures

Ligatures are two or more characters that are formed into a single character in order to create more readable or attractive text. Open Type fonts support four types of ligatures:

  • Standard ligatures. Designed to enhance readability. Standard ligatures include "fi", "fl", and "ff".
  • Contextual ligatures. Designed to enhance readability by providing better joining behaviour between the characters that make up the ligature.
  • Discretionary ligatures. Designed to be ornamental, and not specifically designed for readability.
  • Historical ligatures. Designed to be historical, and not specifically designed for readability.

2. Stylistic sets

Modern Open Type fonts may come with a variety of stylistic sets available, but you often have to invest some time finding a good one. They may also come with different number-spacing options and number-form options.

Here is a sample of different combinations using the Gabriola font.

Ligatures and stylistic effects for the Gabriola font

To experiment with ligatures, number-spacing, number-form and stylistic sets:

1.  Select the document text that you want to format.

2.  Select the Home tab.

3.  Click the launcher in the bottom-right of the Font group. The Font dialog box is displayed.

The launcher

4.  Choose the Advanced tab.

5.  Under OpenType Features, select an option from each of the drop-down lists.

Where to find Ligatures in Microsoft Word

So now you know!

Here are some other advanced text effects you may be interested in.

Please feel free to post any questions you have into the comments below. And before you leave this page, I want to give you one quick little action item! 

ACTION ITEM: Comment below with ONE thing you picked up from this post and share how it has helped, or will help, you. It's good to share your successes because it encourages others and provides an instant boost.

Enjoy the rest of your day!

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About Jason Morrell

About the author

Jason Morrell

Jason loves to simplify the hard stuff, cut the fluff and share what actually works. Things that make a difference. Things that slash hours from your daily work tasks. He runs a software training business in Queensland, Australia, lives on the Gold Coast with his wife and 4 kids and often talks about himself in the third person!


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