Ligature fonts...

Jonathan Hung jhung at
Thu Aug 7 14:55:32 UTC 2014

Hi Tony,

I dug up some research done a while ago, and the findings are documented

Reading those findings, one significant disadvantage to ligatures is that
it does not support substitutions for multiple words. So ligatures would
not work well in scenarios where we want an icon to substitute a string of
2 words or more like an icon for "Contrast Themes".

I also wonder if using a ligature, one should also use a text label as a
best practice. However if we use both a ligature and a text label, it may
cause some usability issues with ATs. For example, a "User" ligature with a
"User Preferences" text label may read out as "User User Preferences" by an

Perhaps there are viable solutions to these issues?

- Jon.

On Thu, Aug 7, 2014 at 10:32 AM, Tony Atkins <tony at>

> Hi, All:
> We were talking about fonts and stumbled upon a topic of broader interest
> to the group, namely "ligature fonts":
> In this model, the word "user" in our custom font is displayed using a
> single user icon from our font.
> I like the idea that the icon seamlessly degrades to the actual text, but
> am concerned that the language in which the ligatures are described is
> given special status, i.e. that this trick only works for one language.
> I wanted to see if anyone had tried to use ligature fonts, and if so, what
> i18n issues they had encountered.  Of course, since I'm sending this to all
> of you, I also wanted to see how common AT solutions tend to work with
> ligature fonts.
> Anyone tried this?
> Cheers,
> Tony
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