What is the word for a word as one glyph in a font?

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  • Ralf
    Ralf Posts: 170
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    And historically: logotype.
  • [Deleted User]
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  • Craig Eliason
    Craig Eliason Posts: 1,413
    edited October 2013
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    Though those would be more like logos/emblems, rather than simple common words which I guess Russell has in mind.
    My understanding is that logotypes would be conventional looking combined sorts made solely for the ease of composing, whereas catchwords are in a distinct style from the accompanying text. Is that right?
  • Jack Jennings
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    I've heard somewhere that cliché originally meant a common phrase cast in metal.

    Wikipedia seems to confirm this and also suggests stereotype.

    Not quite what you're after I guess, but similar.
  • Ralf
    Ralf Posts: 170
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    Cliché has a much broader meaning for basically any copied piece, which can be used for printing—not just letters, but also whole pictures. Stereotypes are usually for whole pages, not single words.
  • Nick Shinn
    Nick Shinn Posts: 2,160
    edited October 2013
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    Given that logotype was a quite literal term when it was coined, perhaps, now that we have a more nuanced understanding of the difference between typeface and font, and betweeen character and glyph, there is an opportunity for a new term: logoglyph. Or if neology based on Greek is too old-school for ya (and logo connotes too much corporate identity symbol), wordglyph.
  • Sandy Cerovich
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    If it's just a word, is it not still considered a ligature, like t_h_e, or w_o_r_d? I can see if it contains graphic elements, it would require a different word to describe it, but whether the word contains 2 or 20 characters, I'd still refer to it as a ligature. Sometimes a car is just a car.
  • Ralf
    Ralf Posts: 170
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    Yes, the technical implementation would justify the term ligature, but considering the typical understanding of this term, using it for whole words might not be such a good idea.
  • SiDaniels
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    How about "logoture"?
  • Nick Shinn
    Nick Shinn Posts: 2,160
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    Any reference to “ligature”—even the extremely clever logoture—suggests that the individual elements are joined. It’s unfortunate that OpenType spec* has removed the literal sense of meaning from the feature, allowing non-connected glyphs to be pseudo-ligatures.

    *“Replaces a sequence of glyphs with a single glyph which is preferred for typographic purposes.”

    This feature tag definition makes complete nonsense of the traditional typographic usage, by ignoring the quality of connectedness or contiguousness.

    Given that there already existed a typographic term—logotype—to describe this expanded concept of a ligature, it was a mistake to bastardize “ligature”.
  • John Hudson
    John Hudson Posts: 3,045
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    This feature tag definition makes complete nonsense of the traditional typographic usage, by ignoring the quality of connectedness or contiguousness.
    I don't think that 'traditional typographic usage' -- which follows western calligraphic and palaeographic usage -- ever corresponded to the technical definition, which was always a single sort representing more than one character, regardless of visual 'connectedness'. These two usages have existed side-by-side for centuries, mostly with little friction when talking about European script typography. Once one moves into non-Latin scripts, the western typographic usage becomes problematic, and leads to absurd statements such as 'The Arabic script features many ligatures'.




  • Nick Shinn
    Nick Shinn Posts: 2,160
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    I guess you're right John. Although the f ligatures included in the standard case layout were all “connected” /f’s, various founders had occasionally produced further ligatures involving /f, unconnected (e.g. f_a), not just for aesthetic/readability reasons, but because these would reduce damage to the fragile kern of the /f’s arm.
  • Kent Lew
    Kent Lew Posts: 906
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    Nick — FWIW, in the Linotype Big Red, these sorts of pre-composed combinations are referenced as “logotypes.”

    See for example Linotype Janson with its extensive array of niceties — fa fe fo fr fu ffa ffe ffo ffr ffu Ta Te To Tr Tu Tw Ty Va Ve Vo etc.

    Obviously, in Linotype’s case these were primarily a compensation for lack of kerning capability.
  • Ralf
    Ralf Posts: 170
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    these sorts of pre-composed combinations are referenced as “logotypes.”
    Surprising! Because this description …
    these were primarily a compensation for lack of kerning capability.
    … fits exactly the typical description of foundry type ligatures.

    I just checked a typical German reference book (“Satztechnisches Lexikon”, 1925), which both mentions ligatures and logotypes.
    Ligatures are describes as several letters cast together for technical reasons (e.g. spacing), whereas logotypes are described as syllables and words cast together to speed up typesetting.



  • John Hudson
    John Hudson Posts: 3,045
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    The ATF 1923 specimen uses the term logotype for special sorts for setting time-tables (p.600) and, most interestingly, number combinations for setting perpetual calendars (pp.602–611). That's the only use of the term I can find in that specimen, but the use suggests any sort representing a semantic unit composed of more than one character. In other words, /Th/ would be a ligature, but /The/ would be a logotype (at least in English). The terms needn't be exclusive, though, because logotypes are technically a subset of ligatures (single sorts representing more than one character).
  • Craig Eliason
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    Legros and Grant (1916) define logotypes as "combinations of letters cast together," which I take to be less precise but roughly equivalent to what you (John) are calling "ligatures." In fact they imply rather that ligatures are a subset of logotypes. In Typographical Printing Surfaces they have a whole chapter devoted to the subject, mostly arguing for the increased efficiency that would come from casting sorts for statistically common runs of letters. So, sorts for "the," "and," "of," but also "ou," "al," "ould," etc., which I'm guessing wouldn't qualify as your "semantic units."
  • Nick Shinn
    Nick Shinn Posts: 2,160
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    After a quick look through some old how-to books (rather than foundry specimens), I found it interesting that there was little or no mention of ligatures or logotypes. For instance nothing in De Vinne’s Correct Composition (USA, 1901).

    Dowding writes briefly on the topic (Factors in the Choice of Type Faces, UK, 1957), “To offset the unfortunate inability of the Linotype to cast a kerned f, no fewer than 26 f-ligatures are provided (for Granjon Old Face).”