Kerning is the adjustment of the distance between the letters that appear on the screen. It is the process of spacing letters to give the typeset copy of pleasing visual experience. The determination of the distance between the fonts is a result of the designer’s individual preference. The consistent spacing between the letters in a word is more comfortable for the eye to read providing better readability. It is applied to individual letter pairs in headlines or other large type. In a website kerning will be most important for large, highly visible text like logos or headlines. Kerning is not usually done with the body text because the gaps between characters at body text sizes is not as distracting.
Each letter in a word has a personal space that brackets it. For a computer, those spaces are defined by the digital postscript settings. Kerning is a visual exercise and is subjective it is about the perceived amount of space between letters rather than the actual distance between them.
Space may be adjusted along a whole line (tracking wise kerning) or between specific pairs characters (pairwise kerning).
A perfect example is the spacing between a cap ‘A’ and ‘V (see above).’ Typically, both ‘A’ and ‘V’ would be spaced, so the terminals of their diagonal strokes nearly touch the vertical stroke in the adjacent letter, like the ‘N’. When an ‘A’ and ‘V’ are set next to each other, however, the spacing looks too open. Kerning adjusts the spacing to be optically correct.
Pay special attention to numbers – they often have ugly spacing!
It can be useful to increase the kerning when your heading or sentence is all in uppercase.
If your text is in normal case increasing or decreasing the kerning may make it more difficult to read
Kerning done well provides balance and consistency to the words on your page. It is an important aspect of user interface design that will help your page convey its intended meaning.
Simon is a Sydney based digital designer. He is the Director of a boutique digital design studio, Bailey Street Design located in the vibrant inner west suburb of Newtown. Simon studied graphic design at Shillington College and specialises in web design for small and medium size businesses. Simon and his team (Toby the studio dog) are passionate about visual communication in the digital environment
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