We’re all familiar with the ampersand, but there are other combined letterforms known as ligatures. In many Roman typestyles, the lowercase f runs into letters that follow, so Renaissance type foundries solved the problem by creating individual sorts for the five most common problems (ff, fi, fl, ffl and ffi).

Etymology: the Latin verb ligare, to bind, gives us the typographic term ligature for connected letters. Common cognates would be league, ligament, and ligate (to tie off an artery).

Beyond the five standard Roman ligatures, many type families offer more extensive sets of ligated characters. Open Type now makes the use of common ligatures effortless and offers choices in an assortment of contextual and discretionary ligatures.