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Rules for placement of the long-s (ſ) in English.

Here's what I have found to be generally true although I've also found exceptions.

Examples are shown in [italics].

The short-s, (s):

  • At the end of a word. [proofreaders]
  • Before an apostrophe. [clos'd]
  • Before a hyphen in hyphenated words. [has-been]
  • Before or after the letter 'f'. [transfer, selfsame]
  • Also, for some 17th and 18th century books, before the letter 'b' or 'k'. [disbelief, ask]

The long-s, (ſ):

  • At the start of a word.[ſecond]
  • In the middle of a word. [firſt]
  • Before a hyphen at a line or page-break even if it would normally be a short-s. [pleaſ-ing]
  • In abbreviations the same rules are followed.

Double s:

  • Middle of a word. Double long-s. [meſſy]
  • End of word. Long-s followed by short-s. [braſs]