A Smart Font is a .OTF font that has alternate characters and ligatures. A ligature is where two or more graphemes or letters are joined as a single glyph. It is common to see AE or OE as a ligature (Æ or Œ ). When you use a regular font, you have to type a code to create a ligature. For AE you must type alt + 0198 in Windows. But when you use a .OTF Smart Font, as soon as you type AE it will automatically be replaced with Æ if that was one of the characters in the Smart Font.
While a .OTF font will work in any program, many programs don't necessarily support the ligature features that allow you to have the ligatures automatically replace certain characters. Adobe has always been great about supporting ligatures. Word 2010 and newer supports it. There are other programs that support the feature but it is changing all the time. Use a search engine to find if the program you use supports it. If not there are work arounds:
To use ligatures in OTF fonts in Windows without supporting programs like Adobe, see this tutorial.
To use ligatures in OTF fonts on a Mac without supporting programs like Adobe, see this tutorial.
Shop for Smart Fonts on LD.
Below is the font ZP Mother Interlock and a view of all of its additional ligatures.
OTF (Open Type Font) are cross-platform (Mac and PC) fonts. They typically have a smaller file size which allows for a quicker download. They support expanded characters which allows for alternate characters and ligatures.
TTF (True Type Font) are similar to OTF fonts but they require separate files for each instance of the font. For example, a separate .ttf file is needed for bold, italics, or bold italics.
For most intent and purposes, it will make little difference to use one or the other file type when downloading fonts from LD.
There are a lot of fun fonts out there with ligatures, but not every program has the capacity to use them. This is an easy tutorial that shows how to insert those ligatures into pretty much any Windows program. Launch the Windows Character Map. If you are using and earlier version of Windows you can just find it from the start menu. If you are using Windows 8 just type in Character Map in the windows search field. We are using one of LD's smart fonts, ZP Mother Interlock.
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