'fi' is one of the standard ligatures found in fonts where the arch of the 'f' would collide with or be too close to the dot of the 'i'

But what about the situation when the 'i' has an accent in place of the dot? For example, consider 'fī' (that is, 'f' followed by 'i' with a macron, which turns up in transliteration of Arabic) in Minion Pro Regular and Italic (with the usual 'fi' ligature for comparison):

fi and fī in Minion Pro regular and Italic

Clearly, in both Regular and Italic the macron on the 'i' is too close to the arch of the 'f'. My first reaction was that kerning should be added, but then I realized that this the 'fi' ligature exists to avoid this for 'f' and (unaccented) 'i'. I found that kerning tends to leave an ugly gap, and it looks strange not to have the horizontal stroke of the 'f' joining the 'i'.

(1) Do there exist fonts where ligatures exist for 'f' and an accented 'i' (any accent, not necessarily a macron)?

(2) Is there any consensus on whether such ligatures should be used?

  • 1
    They’re not common, so the practical consensus is clearly that they aren’t needed. That said, you’re right that, particularly in the regular, the arch is too close to the macron and a ligature would have made sense. Or at least an alternate f to be used before certain characters, one with a different arc that doesn’t get in the way. Commented Jun 10, 2021 at 23:35
  • So, the answer to 1 is negative, anyone known a font with that feature? Commented Dec 17, 2021 at 1:16

1 Answer 1

  1. I've never seen such a font, but then I'm an English speaker and we rarely use accents/diacritics, except perhaps in a few word borrowings from other languages.

  2. "Should" is far too strong a word. Ligatures are generally optional. They're an aesthetic choice. There's no obligation to use them. In fact there are some situations where they shouldn't be used at all, such as in databases or when text needs to be searchable, or able to be copied and pasted into another document where the available fonts might not support ligatures.

  • 3
    Ligatures should virtually never be used as characters. The actual characters in the input should always be the underlying parts of the ligature, except in very special circumstances, with the ligature being automatically substituted by the font. There are also places where they shouldn’t be used even visually (e.g., in German non-tautomorphemic ff or fi should ideally not be ligatured), but those are fairly rare exceptions. Commented Jun 10, 2021 at 23:33
  • 1
    @JanusBahsJacquet - ah yes, not to link across two separate morphemes. That's also true in English, but possibly even rarer since we don't have quite so many long compound words as German. Not sure how that would work with Arabic transliterations however.
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Jun 10, 2021 at 23:52
  • If should is strong "never" is a terrible word. This kind of absolute thinking are against any progress. I wonder if there was a real reunion where this sentence were posed and every one voted in favor of it. Do anyone have reference of it, it will be quite interenting Commented Dec 17, 2021 at 1:19

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