Towards some more Private Use Area code points for ligatures.

From: William Overington (
Date: Thu May 30 2002 - 06:24:35 EDT

Following on from the publication of the document "Some Private Use Area
code points for ligatures." one correspondent has asked me to include an ffj
ligature. There was also a suggestion that as there is an ff ligature, any
f ligature should probably also be accompanied by a corresponding ff
ligature. So I intend to add ffh and fft as well.

Another correspondent quoted someone else as suggesting long s long s t.

Ligatures for fb sp and Th have arisen from an Adobe document, available as

I will include an ffb ligature as well.

I am still wondering what to do about ligatures of long s with f.

Although the original list was intended to provide code points for ligatures
for German Fraktur and 18th Century English printing, I am thinking that
this second list could also include ligatures which people would like to use
for fine printing.

Part of my thinking is that, now that there is a publicly available list of
code points for ligatures, that some people interested in making founts,
whether commercial organizations or hobbyists, might see the list and decide
to include everything on it, so, if the ligature might be used, it is better
to include it in the list, there being no great shortage of code points
available, than not to include it in the list.

The second list will be in addition to the initial list. The second list
will not affect the first list at all.

As there are now a number of ligatures already suggested, I am hoping to
publish a second list of ligatures this weekend and place it in our family
webspace at the following web address, where the first list is already

So, if anyone has any ligatures which they would like included in the second
list, they are welcome to post them to this discussion group or to email
them to me privately, as they choose.


Does anyone know if historically there were any examples of long s ligatures carrying accents, such as in eastern European languages please?


I am also considering adding a separate document for swash characters, such as a letter e which could be added at the end of a word.


I am also having a look at the idea of having code points for the famous combination border of the type used by Robert Granjon in the sixteenth century. Monotype used to make a version in metal type.

For a computer encoding, each of the square metal types will need to have four codes, for the four orientations, which makes 4 clockwise narrow to wide, 4 counter clockwise narrow to wide, 4 diagonal narrow to wide, together with a square space to fit, so that fount designers can have a specific space with the ornaments. The other pieces are rather trickier as they are less than a square wide, so I have devised 16 square combinations (four possible orientations of (a half width bar plus one of the two pieces, with one of two possible pommel orientations relative to the half width bar)) together with a further four vertical "on their own" narrow pieces, that is mirror images, right way up and upside down, together with the full width bar vertically. A grand total of 34 code points which I am thinking in terms of placing in U+E500 onwards.

I am aware that there are also other traditional combination border designs which were based on all square pieces, some of which will need to be coded with four code points due to four possible orientations and some of which will need just one code point as they look the same in any of four orientations. I hope to eventually code those designs too, in the hope that some fount designer might like to make a TrueType fount which people could use in a desktop publishing package or in an electronic book authoring package.

Perhaps this will have far reaching effects, stimulating an interest in the production of founts which include ornaments based upon the ornaments used by printers many centuries ago. Some readers might like to know that the period of printing up until the year 1500 is often known as the incunabula period, so searching for the word incunabula using a web based search engine can be helpful.

Indeed, I am becoming interested in obtaining the necessary software to produce my own founts.


A correspondent, who is the gentleman who raised the issue of the Fraktur ligatures in the discussion in the first place, has specifically asked me publicise his web page, which now includes the ligature codes.



William Overington

30 May 2002

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