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VOLT and InDesign Tutorial
Step 2 - Adding ligatures

While certain basic ligatures have traditionally been included with most fonts, making use of them in documents has rarely been easy. Most programs provide no easy way to access the ligatures, often ligatures are not mapped in the font properly, or programs that do offer support do so without abstracting the glyphs from the letters (causing problems with tools like spell-checkers). But, by using a correctly constructed OpenType font in InDesign, a typographer can properly and easily implement ligatures whether basic (like 'fi') or more specialized (like 'fj').

The first step is to create a <liga> feature under our 'Default' language. Select the 'Default' language with a single-click, and then click the 'Add Feature' button at the bottom of the VOLT window. Type in <liga> and press ENTER. VOLT will then recognize the command and label it 'Standard Ligatures' (see graphic below).

VOLT standard ligatures feature

Next, we add a lookup in the pane to the right of the pane we've been working in, which will become associated with the <liga> feature we've created. Clicking the 'Add Subsitution' button at the bottom of the VOLT window will create a new subsitution feature. The name you give this new lookup is not important, though it is always useful to give things descriptive and concise labels. Since we will only be creating one ligature lookup (which can hold multiple ligatures, as you'll see), we will simply name the lookup 'ligatures'. After typing the name and hitting ENTER, we must link the lookup to the <liga> feature we created. This can be done by clicking on the 'ligatures' lookup and dragging it to the <liga> feature labeled 'Standard Ligatures.' Once this is done, you should see the 'ligatures' lookup listed below the 'Standard Ligatures' feature (see graphic below).

Ligatures lookup

Now we can begin adding the actual substitutions to our 'ligatures' lookup. Double-click on the 'ligatures' lookup and the lookup editing window will pop up. This is where we specify which letter combinations should have ligatures substituted in their place when ligatures are turned on in InDesign. We can start by adding the most common ligature, which almost all fonts support 'fi'. To do this, we must determine the names of three glyphs: f, i, and the 'fi' glyph. As you'll see, VOLT references glyphs by an associated Glyph Name, which can be found in the 'Edit Glyphs' window as seen previously. Note that Glyph Names will often differ from font to font.

Open the 'Edit Glyphs' window and scroll through your font until you've found all three glyphs (as you go through, note their names you can of course rename them if you'd like). Here are the three glyphs from an example font:

[The f and i glyphs and fi ligature]

Now that we know which glyphs to work with, we return to the editing window for the 'ligatures' lookup. Click in the box under the 'From Glyphs -> To Glyphs' column and type the following, substituting in the proper glyph names for your font:

glyph_name_f glyph_name_i -> glyph_name_fi

and then hit ENTER. The 'fi' ligature will be added, and your window should look something like this:

[fi ligature substitution]

To add more ligatures to the same lookup, you add additional rows by hitting ENTER after the current row. By keeping all of your ligatures in one lookup, the font will be more efficient when it comes time to interpreting the substitutions. Other common ligatures that your font may support include 'ffi', 'fl', 'ffl'. Some fonts support extra ligatures such as 'Qu' or 'fj' or the anachronistic ligatures like 'st' or 'ct'. Here is how our 'ligatures' lookup appears after we've added more ligatures:

[All ligature substitutions]

When you are done adding ligatures, close the 'ligatures' lookup-editing window and return to the main VOLT window.

Next section:Step 3 - Adding small caps

intro | start | ligatures | small caps | numerals | case | compiling | InDesign


Last updated 19 August 2000.

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