Typography: What is Kerning?

When it comes to typography, kerning is a term that is often thrown around. But what exactly is kerning, and why is it so important in typography? In this post, we’ll explore the basics of kerning and how it can impact the readability and overall aesthetic of your text.

What is Kerning?

Kerning is the process of adjusting the spacing between individual letters in a word. This adjustment is made to ensure that the spacing between each letter is visually consistent and pleasing to the eye. Kerning is especially important when working with display fonts, which tend to have more exaggerated letter shapes and require more fine-tuned spacing adjustments.

Why is Kerning in Typography Important?

Kerning plays a critical role in typography because it affects the legibility and overall aesthetic of your text. Poor kerning can lead to awkward spacing between letters, making words difficult to read and reducing the overall impact of your message.

On the other hand, proper kerning can help your text flow smoothly, making it easier to read and more visually appealing. Good kerning can also help emphasize important words or phrases by giving them extra visual weight.

Tips for Proper Kerning

So, how do you ensure proper kerning in your typography? Here are some tips to keep in mind:

Use a Grid System

Using a grid system can help you ensure that the spacing between letters is visually consistent. By creating a grid that corresponds to the height of your typeface, you can use it as a reference point to ensure that your kerning is consistent across your entire document.

Adjust Kerning Manually

While many software programs have automatic kerning settings, these settings are not always accurate and can result in awkward spacing. Instead, adjust your kerning manually by adjusting the space between each letter until it looks visually pleasing.

Consider the Typeface

Different typefaces require different kerning adjustments. For example, a serif font may require less kerning than a sans-serif font due to the serifs (the small lines or flourishes on the ends of letters) creating natural spacing. When choosing a typeface, consider the kerning adjustments it may require and plan accordingly.

Pay Attention to Word Spacing

In addition to letter spacing, word spacing can also impact the overall legibility and aesthetic of your typography. Ensure that there is enough space between words so that they are visually distinct, but not so much that they appear disjointed.

Final Thoughts

Kerning may seem like a minor detail in the grand scheme of typography, but it can make a significant impact on the overall readability and aesthetic of your text. By following these tips and taking the time to adjust your kerning manually, you can ensure that your typography is visually pleasing and easy to read.

In conclusion, kerning is an important aspect of typography that should not be overlooked. Whether you are designing a website, creating a marketing brochure, or simply writing a document, paying attention to kerning can help your text stand out and make a positive impact on your audience.

Phil Aliphon, Director

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