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This paper presents a detailed spectroscopic investigation of luminescence properties of 4,4′-bis(N-carbazolyl)-1,1′-biphenyl (CBP) and N,N,N′,N′-tetraphenylbenzidine (TAD) in solutions and neat films. These compounds are compared to their derivatives CDBP and TDAD that contain methyl groups in the 2 and 2′ position of the biphenyl core. We find that whereas steric twisting in CDBP and TDAD leads to a high triplet energy of about 3.0 and 3.1 eV, respectively, these compounds also tend to form triplet excimers in a neat film, in contrast to CBP and TAD. By comparison with N-phenylcarbazole (NPC) and triphenylamine (TPA), on which these compounds are based, as well as with the rigid spiro analogues to CBP and TAD we show that the reduced excimer formation in CBP and TAD can be attributed to a localization of the excitation onto the central biphenyl part of the molecule.