[XeTeX] ligatures in (plain) XeTeX

David Perry hospes.primus at verizon.net
Sat Nov 20 17:56:40 CET 2010

There are two very different things involved here.

As John said in his reply, if you use the tex-text mapping then the en- 
and em-dash TeX shorthands should work fine.  These are not ligatures in 
the true sense of the word (I know they are referred to as such in TeX, 
unfortunately) and will not operate the way that true ligatures such as 
fi will since they rely on TeX-savvy software rather than using features 
built into modern fonts.

For the true ligatures, I think your problem comes from using fonts of 
different ages and different technologies.  Hoefler Text is an up to 
date AAT font with many advanced typographic features, including 
standard ligatures.  Standard ligatures should be on by default, so it's 
not surprising that they work.  This font might very well contain ct and 
st ligatures also, but under a different name (discretionary or rare or 
something; use the OS X Typography palette in TextEdit or some other 
native Mac word processor to check this out).

I suspect that Apple Garamond is an old font without AAT or OT features; 
I'm on a Windows machine right now so I can't check.  The old MacRoman 
character set contains the dashes and the fi and fl ligatures, and these 
were traditionally accessible on the keyboard (my US keyboard has 
different strokes than the ones you mention, but I think that's just a 
function of French vs US keyboards).  If you enter them directly, XeTeX 
is _not_ translating anything, but just passing along the characters you 

HTH - David

On 11/20/2010 6:07 AM, Jean-Claude Raoult wrote:
> 	Hello,
> My problem : getting ligatures with (plain) XeTeX, the engine being pdfTeX with TeXShop.
> I am using XeTeX on a iMac under OS X leopard, with a french keyboard (since I am french).
> The coding used is UTF-8.
> A few tests with my preferred fonts (sorry, I am very traditional):
> Apple Garamond (very similar to Monotype Garamond), Baskerville and Hoefler Text :
> The ligatures -- and --- will work neither with Apple Garamond, nor Baskerville, nor HoeflerText.
> The ligatures fi, fl and ff will work with Hoefler Text, fi and fl with Baskerville, none with Apple Garamond.
> However, the ligatures --- (—), fi (fi) and fl (fl) exist on the keyboard as<alt>  -,<alt>  g and<alt><shift>G.
> If they are typed as such, XeTeX does translate them into the proper ligatures.
> Therefore, they exist in Apple Garamond… and what about st and ct ?
> I am not fond of diving into metafont. Would anybody know how to get them without butchering into
> XeTeX tables ?
> 				Jean-Claude Raoult
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