FI FL glyphs still needed?

I was wondering if FI and FL glyphs for cap substitution of fi and fl ligatures are still needed. What do you think?

They have never been needed. In my 45+ years as a typesetter I never encountered cap versions of the /fi /fl ligs except perhaps in a highly stylized display face.

In design shurely not (FI glyph is the same as F and I set together).
But what about backwards compatibility of older font formats where it was included?

When has it been included and in what format? I’ve been making digital fonts since 1985 and have never seen it, except for all-caps fonts where caps are put into the lowercase character slots (in addition to the caps slots). Oftentimes FI and FL small caps are included, depending on how the small caps are implemented.

FWIW, layout engines are usually smart enough to change fi and fl ligatures to F I and F L (separate characters) when changing case if the ligatures are entered directly (shift-option-5 and shift-option-6 on Macs).

They are set just as an /F and /I.

I’ve been working with type since hot metal was transitioning to phototype and I have never seen a font in metal, phototype or digital which included those ligatures.

Thanks for your aswers (I’ve seen quite some).

Can you give some examples?


Alverata, designed by Gerard Unger, based on Romanesque stonecarvings c.1000-1200 AD. An article on the origin of his design explains that the design contains some unusual letterforms.

The FI/FL certainly has to be included in “unusual letterforms”. The two ligatures are non-Unicode glyphs and after examining the character shapes, comparing them to the stand-alone glyphs, they are not variants – which I thought they might be. Variants would be the only reason for their existence in my experience.

In the article about the origin of the design, this was written:
“Romanesque capitals were varied endlessly. The letters were reversed, joined to­gether to make ligatures and were intertwined, small examples being nested — placed inside or alongside the capitals — and both letters and the spaces between them would often be widened or narrowed, often to fit text into the space available, but sometimes for no apparent reason.”

So as to the existence of the two ligatures, “no apparent reason” pretty much sums it up for me. An examination of the feature code might enlighten us somewhat.

Technically and practically I see absolutely no reason to include them in your fonts unless they are variations in some way.

Mr. Unger might have more to say if you were to contact him. You can read the entire article here:

George is right. To put it more briefly, the FI and FL glyphs in Alverata are unencoded which means they are not standard characters, not part of Unicode or any other standard.

What I do now is I decompose the legacy presentation forms fi U+FB01 and fl U+FB02 in ccmp, so the problem will not occur even if the layout engine fails:

lookup ligaturesDecompose {
	sub fi by f i;
	sub fl by f l;
} ligaturesDecompose;
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Thank you Rainer

Just tried it and it works in the browsers, except Safari :smiley: Unfortunately it does not work in In Design CC 16.4 under MacOS Catalina. Do you have any idea why InDesing ignores ccmp?

Only the outdated classic composer, which ignores one-to-many subs. But you shouldn’t use that one anymore anyway. Better use the World-Ready Composer.

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