How-To Geek

Use Advanced Font Ligatures in Office 2010

Fonts can help your documents stand out and be easier to read, and Office 2010 helps you take your fonts even further with support for OpenType ligatures, stylistic sets, and more.  Here’s a quick look at these new font features in Office 2010.


Starting with Windows 7, Microsoft has made an effort to support more advanced font features across their products.  Windows 7 includes support for advanced OpenType font features and laid the groundwork for advanced font support in programs with the new DirectWrite subsystem.  It also includes the new font Gabriola, which includes an incredible number of beautiful stylistic sets and ligatures.

Now, with the upcoming release of Office 2010, Microsoft is bringing advanced typographical features to the Office programs we love.  This includes support for OpenType ligatures, stylistic sets, number forms, contextual alternative characters, and more.  These new features are available in Word, Outlook, and Publisher 2010, and work the same on Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7.

Please note that Windows does include several OpenType fonts that include these advanced features.  Calibri, Cambria, Constantia, and Corbel all include multiple number forms, while Consolas, Palatino Linotype, and Gabriola (Windows 7 only) include all the OpenType features.  And, of course, these new features will work great with any other OpenType fonts you have that contain advanced ligatures, stylistic sets, and number forms.

Using advanced typography in Word

To use the new font features, open a new document, select an OpenType font, and enter some text.  Here we have Word 2010 in Windows 7 with some random text in the Gabriola font.  Click the arrow on the bottom of the Font section of the ribbon to open the font properties.


Alternately, select the text and click Font.


Now, click on the Advanced tab to see the OpenType features.


You can change the ligatures setting…


Choose Proportional or Tabular number spacing…


And even select Lining or Old-style number forms.


Here’s a comparison of Lining and Old-style number forms in Word 2010 with the Calibri font.


Finally, you can choose various Stylistic sets for your font.  The dialog always shows 20 styles, whether or not your font includes that many.  Most include only 1 or 2; Gabriola includes 6.


Here’s lorem ipsum text, using the Gabriola font with Stylistic set 6.


Impressive, huh?  The font ligatures change based on context, so they will automatically change as you are typing.  Watch the transition as we typed the word Microsoft in Word with Gabriola stylistic set 6.

sshot-19 sshot-20 sshot-21  sshot-23sshot-22

Here’s another example, showing the fi and tt ligatures in Calibri.


These effects work great in Word 2010 in XP, too.


And, since Outlook uses Word as it’s editing engine, you can use the same options in Outlook 2010.  Note that these font effects may not show up the same if the recipient’s email client doesn’t support advanced OpenType typography.  It will, of course, display perfectly if the recipient is using Outlook 2010.


Using advanced typography in Publisher 2010

Publisher 2010 includes the same advanced font features.  This is especially nice for those using Publisher for professional layout and design.  Simply insert a text box, enter some text, select it, and click the arrow on the bottom of the font box as in Word to open the font properties.


This font options dialog is actually more advanced than Word’s font options.  You can preview your font changes on sample text right in the properties box.  You can also choose to add or remove a swash from your characters.



Advanced typographical effects are a welcome addition to Word and Publisher 2010, and they are very impressive when coupled with modern fonts such as Gabriola.  From designing elegant headers to using old-style numbers, these features are very useful and fun.

Do you have a favorite OpenType font that includes advanced typographical features?  Let us know in the comments!

More Reading

Advances in typography in Windows 7 – Engineering 7 Blog

New features in Microsoft Word 2010

Matthew digs up tasty bytes about Windows, Virtualization, and the cloud, and serves them up for all to enjoy!

  • Published 03/23/10

Comments (16)

  1. apex2000

    Thank you very much for this. I have learned something new today.

    As a matter of personal interest, are you living in Thailand? I ask as I see Thai fonts in various dialogue boxes above. I have been in Thailand for 19 years now and enjoyed ‘most’ of it!

  2. Matthew

    @Apex2000 – Yes, I actually do live in Thailand, and have been here since 2000. And, by extension, I read and write/type in Thai, and so have Thai installed as one of my input languages. Glad you like it here … only bad thing is the heat and snakes :)

  3. Seth

    It’s too bad the drop-down menus don’t preview the styles automatically. There should be a way to quickly preview the different options.

  4. grant

    hi, thanks for sharing.

  5. JC

    In case you did not know, Windows Notepad supports ligatures that this blog talks about. Try those fonts inside it in OSs Windows XP, Vista and 7.

    The most common uses of ligatures that I found are:
    – making special joined letters like o+e
    – flowery effects
    – making letter spacing more even as the design demands

    I found another use for ligatures that makes life much easier for Asian users.

    I made a smart font for Sinhala language with hundreds of ligatures so that the complex Sinhala script could be typed using the English keyboard (US-International). The underlying text is actually transliterated Sinhala in Latin characters. This font stores the shapes of the Latin letters in the shapes of corresponding Sinhala letters. As you type, the font keeps replacing the visible text with context governed complex shapes. Of course, my font is not anything typographic. It is a crude design. This is a good solution for Thai as well as other Indic languages. The result is that these languages become just like single-byte English and accepted in most programs that only support Latin-1 character set.

    Download the font at:
    You could see a newspaper page like web page showing this font at:
    (You must use Firefox browser to view it as only Firefox supports OpenType ligatures as far as I know)

  6. Matthew Guay

    @JC – Thanks for sharing this! I just tested it, and it appears that Notepad in Windows 7 automatically uses ligatures (e.g. combining fl, tt, fi), which is really cool. It doesn’t support the stylistic sets, though, so Word 2010’s still one of the best ways to to that.

  7. Terry

    Interesting and informative.

    One minor quibble: Outlook 2010 does not use Word as its editor. Since Office 2007, Outlook has used its own editor that may look like Word but is a totally separate dll.


  8. Alan O'Brien

    Thanks also from me. Two points. First, I found that on installation Word had the ligature feature turned off. It was only after much searching that I found you had to go to:

    File, Options, Advanced and then scroll to the very botton and open Layout Options: the option to Disable OpenType Font formatting features was ticked. Unticking worked. I think it is very poor that Word Help said nothing about this and nor is there anything I could find on the Office website.

    Second, I have a number of True Type fonts (apart from the OpenType ones you mention) which have additional fonts including ligatures. For these I have a macro which searches for and replaces ligature combinations. I was hoping that Word 10 would recognise these ligatures and substitute them without using my macro. Presumably this isn’t so? Do you actually need a special type of ligature font set for the new feature to operate#?

  9. Meg

    Can you tell me how to use a font I downloaded? I am stuck on Control Panel> Fonts from there, there is no Add New Font option…

    Thank you for your help!

  10. Frank

    Thanks for your remarkable clarity. I have been looking for the opportunity to use ligatures and now have Word 2010, but I can’t seem to make it work. I can with the Gabriola, but I’m trying to use a more traditional text font like Goudy Old Style, which does include ligatures for fi and fl. I was also hoping to use old style numbers. I set the options as you describe; I even went back to be sure that font options weren’t turned off. Maybe the problem is that my os is xp. Any suggestions about what to do next?

    (I’m not sure how you can answer this, but I thought I’d try. Thanks again for caring about such things and posting such useful information.)


  11. Frank

    PS. If I didn’t say this in the first email, I can get old style numbers in Palatino Linotype (a good second choice for me), but not the ligatures.

  12. Frank

    PPS. Sorry to bother you. Everything works in Palatino Linotype, although it doesn’t work properly in Gaudy. So I’ll just switch.

  13. ernie

    open windows/fonts and copy your font into that file

  14. Jerry

    I havevarious fonts on my desktop at home, but not on my laptop. How can I get the same fonts on both computers?


  15. kadajawi

    It simply doesn’t work. Almost none of the advanced features work. The preview looks fine, but it’s not displayed properly. Why?!

  16. clarkcrew8

    can I turn the font vertical in excel to make collum headings? thanks :)

More Articles You Might Like

Enter Your Email Here to Get Access for Free:

Go check your email!