A font with custom ligatures (for music)?

I want to make a custom music font that can be typed in Microsoft Word 2010, but I cannot get custom ligatures to work. In Word 2010, I have in Font > Advanced the Ligatures option set to ‘All’. I don’t understand why ‘fi’ and ‘mp’ coalesce into the custom glyph of my choice, while ‘|-‘ (bar + hyphen) does not.

I am using FontForge to construct the font. I am exporting the font as an OpenType (either .otf or .ttf). I suspect the problem may be related to the ‘feature’ or ‘script’ that I select in the Lookup section, which seem to confine me to particular languages like Latin or Arabic. All the tutorials online talk only about standard ligatures like ‘ff’ and ‘ae’ and Arabic ligatures, rather than custom combinations of any two arbitrary glyphs.

I don’t even know if ligatures are what I want. My real desire is to have a ‘Replace as you type’ feature built into the font, but is that even possible? If it is, I could chain glyph replacements (ligatures?) together infinitely. If it isn’t, I can work around it by redesigning my character map. Still, I can’t get anything to work if the only ligatures that render are those which are already commonplace in some particular language.

I have tried a Gregorian chant music font called Caeciliae in Microsoft Word, with All Ligatures turned on, and it doesn’t work either. Yet Calibri works, so I can’t determine whether the problem is caused by me, FontForge, Word, or the nature of fonts in general, about which I know very little.


If you have the time, I urge you to ignore suggestions to don’t-even-try-and-use-something-already-done, and at least try to do the new thing you propose. Thus, you can start by reading The OpenType Cookbook in order to understand how the features, lookups, substitutions, etc. work. Then read more and keep asking if you need help. As far as I know, it is possible to do what you want, but can require some trickery.

Source : Link , Question Author : Coemgenus , Answer Author : Pepe Ochoa

Leave a Comment