Word 2010: Style Sets and Ligatures

Let’s profile two of Word’s newer design features: Stylistic Sets and Ligatures. These features, introduced in Word 2010 and available to documents saved in .DOCX format, leverage the newer OpenType font standard. Using these features, you can enhance and embellish select text.

Stylistic Sets

Certain OpenType fonts (e.g., Calibri, Gabriola, Cambria, etc.) have additional embedded appearance options, called Stylistic Sets. These sets enable subtle (and not so subtle) appearance changes, based on Stylistic Set selection, character spacing and letter combination.

Gabriola font with differnt Stylistic Sets applied
Gabriola font with different Stylistic Sets applied

To apply a Stylistic Set

  1. Select text.
  2. On the Home tab of the Ribbon, in the Font group, click the Text Effects and Typography button. Alternatively, you can press CTRL + D to launch the Font dialog box, and then click the Advanced tab.
  3. Point to Stylistic Sets and select desired set.



A Ligature consists of two or more letters commonly joined together in written text. Back in the days of movable type, these characters where forged one a single printing press block, also known as ‘glyph’, to save time and space. Some common examples include  Æ, Œ , ƒƒ, and my personal favorite, Qu.

In Word, ligatures are categorized as:

  • Standard,  contains the ligatures that most typographers and font designers agree are appropriate for that language.
  • Contextual, ligatures that the font designer believed appropriate for use with that font.
  • Historical, ligatures for language that was once standard but is no longer commonly used (e.g., ‘ye olde theatre’)
  • Discretionary, ligatures that the font designer included for specific purposes.

Here’s a sentence using Calibri, with all ligature categories applied.

Calibri font 'All' Ligatures formatted
Calibri font with different ligature types selelcted

To apply a Ligature

  1. Select text.
  2. On the Home tab of the Ribbon, in the Font group, click the Text Effects and Typography button. Alternatively, you can press CTRL + D to launch the Font dialog box, and then click the Advanced tab.
  3. Point to Ligatures and select desired format.


Comments and questions are always welcome!

Author: quincy harley jr

Quincy is a technophile, coach and Learning Development expert. He has an extensive legal IT background and is practiced in MS Office application support and product development. As a project leader he has been integral in numerous new application rollouts. Whatever spare time he has, is spent with reading, archery and watching his young sons grow.

4 thoughts on “Word 2010: Style Sets and Ligatures”

  1. Magnificent goods from you, man. I have understand your stuff previous to and you’re just too wonderful. I actually like what you have acquired here, certainly like what you’re saying and the way in which you say it. You make it entertaining and you still take care of to keep it sensible. I can not wait to read much more from you. This is really a tremendous web site.

    1. Agreed! I used to teach computers and MS Word and your explanations and images here are excellent. So nice of you to take the time and share this important and specialized information with everyone. Gracias, amigo!

      1. A BIG QUESTION: I’m trying to find a sheet that shows all the Stylistic Sets and how they are applied to each letter or group of letters. I have made a FileMaker Pro database for other complicated fonts such as Poetica with many swash caps and more, so I can easily find and choose with particular one to use. I am hoping to do the same with the beautiful and sophisticated Gabriola font. (That’s how I came upon your excellent site today). Any ideas where to find the complete set for the 7 or 8 different style sets with corresponding ligatures? It must exist, at least for the excellent type designer John Hudson who created this font for Microsoft. http://www.tiro.com/projects.html

        I just don’t know what the proper terminology to ask about this. What is that list or sheet called? Font ligature sheet?

        Thanks again for a wonderful & informative website!

      2. Greetings, Catherine! Thanks for reading; I really appreciate the favorable comments! “A Table of Sylistic Sets for each letter group”, wow, this would be a great thing to possess. Sadly, after conducting some research all I have to share is your frustration and two empty hands. The nature of OpenText is such that it runs an algorithm that determines the way two (and sometimes more) characters will re-display when paired together. So, although, their appearances are definitive and predictable, no one has, to my knowledge, take the activity at hand to produce a table of these pairings. I can see why, Latin alphabet, 26×26 letters combinations (of just 1 pairs Stylistc Sets in one case) would be a daunting table, once you throw in Case variations, well, it wold make for a great wallpaper, provided you had a large enough room. I’ll keep circulating this question among my cadre of gurus, Should I, or you, find solution we must share!

        Thanks again, Catherine; cheers!
        P.S: thanks for the link to J. Hudson’s work..excellent resource!

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