OpenType Ligatures Coming to Word 14?

It appears Microsoft has been working on implementing OpenType ligatures in Word, and we may finally see support for them in Word 14.

While writing a long and interesting paper on Australia’s Telecommunications Access Regime in Part XIC of the Trade Practices Act 1974 (Cth), I found that Microsoft Office Word 12 has half-baked support for OpenType ligatures:

OpenType ligatures in Word 12

The support is incomplete, however. OpenType ligatures appear only when running Word 12 on the Windows 7 Beta and when paragraph marks are enabled. Running on Vista or with paragraph marks disabled, the ligatures disappear:

No OpenType ligatures in Word 12 without paragraph marks

The behaviour of the ligatures is also inconsistent. Create a new document and type ‘ffi’ and no ligatures appear. Type ‘test ffi’ and ligatures do appear. It’s clear from this buggy behaviour that the ligatures aren’t meant to appear at all, but they do provide evidence that Microsoft was working on implementing them.

Perhaps the feature was cut when Microsoft decided that Word 12 needs to run on both Windows XP and Vista after Vista was repeatedly delayed. It’s unbelievable that Notepad on Vista supports ligatures while Word still does not.

In any case, Microsoft has made further improvements to fonts in Windows 7, and the half-baked implementation of OpenType ligatures in Word 12 suggests that we may finally see support for them in Word 14.

Update: The Microsoft Office 2010 Technical Preview has leaked, revealing that OpenType ligatures are supported in Microsoft Word 2010 (Word 14).

Tags: Microsoft Word, OpenType, typography