Kerning Rules for Beginners
Kerning is something that seems not so important to too many designers. But that’s where the entire problem lies. There might appear a chunk of text that might look absurd and out of the scene that might be a kerning problem. A lot of designers overlook this problem but it should be resolved. Here are Kerning Rules for beginners that shall help you.
Kerning is the amount of space between two letters (or other characters: numbers, punctuation, etc.) and the process of adjusting that space to avoid awkward looking gaps between your letters and improve readability.
Kerning Rule #1
Sometimes a font’s default kerning isn’t ideal for certain letter combinations, so you’ll want to manually adjust it so the spacing between all the letters looks consistent. It’s important to note here that kerning is a visual exercise; it’s about the apparent amount of space between letters rather than the actual distance between them. Kerning involves adjusting your typography to look right rather than creating mathematically equal spacing.
Kerning Rule #2
Kerning may seem like an unnecessary detail, but adding it as a quick extra step at the end of your design workflow can make a big difference in helping typography projects look cultured. Kerning will be most important for large, highly visible text like typographic logos or headlines.
Kerning Rule #3
Each letter is still surrounded by an invisible box, and sometimes those boxes create too much space between letter pairs, so their boundaries need to overlap to create the appearance of even spacing. This is an important rule in kerning rules for beginners.
Kerning isn’t that hard once you understand how it works, there are several tricks you can use to make the process easier, such as:
Watching out for certain letter combinations; the shapes of some letters (particularly ones that have strong slants or extended pieces) can make them hard to kern. Here are some of the difficult to kern”
- Slanted letters: A, K, V, W, Y
- Letters with arms or cross strokes: F, L, T
- Letter combinations: W or V + A (any order); T or F + a lowercase vowel
Kerning Rule #5
Understand the relationship between space and letter shape. In the above point, we focused mostly on how pairs of uppercase letters can be problematic, but lowercase letters have their own kerning issues. That is because straight edged letters and rounded letters look different when paired with each other than when paired with their own kind.
Kerning Rule #6
It’s a good idea to kern after you’ve settled on the size of your type. The size you set your font at will influence your kerning. In other words, letters often appear to interact differently at various point sizes. For instance, if you set a headline at 56 pt., kern it, and then later need to change it to 29 pt., your careful kerning work will likely be undone.
Kerning Rule #7
You can get away with tighter kerning at larger sizes, but letters can look closer together at smaller sizes, so looser kerning may be required.
Kerning Rule #8
Text that is tightly spaced can be hard to read, especially at small sizes. Another negative side effect of under-kerning is that letters can be so close that they touch, which sometimes would invent a whole other letter or a word.
Kerning Rule #9
Since the main concern in typography is readability and legibility should, it’s best to kern letters slightly looser to avoid giving viewers eyestrain or any opportunity for misinterpretation.
Kerning Rule #10
In terms of a design process, kerning should come last in your typography and spacing-related tasks. The first adjustments should be done regarding the tracking and leading. Make sure you’ve finalized your font choices before moving on to kerning since kerning will look different for a different typeface.
Now for all those who are missing out on the terms Tracking and Leading, here is a brief description.
- Tracking: It is also termed as letter-spacing; this type of spacing contributes to the overall visual “looseness” or “tightness” of your text.
- Leading: This is the vertical space between lines of text.
You can also go through our article on Typography for knowing more about the terminologies used in typography.
These were the 10 grounds kerning rules for beginners to start with. Further, the designers can also work on learning and acquire higher knowledge in typography if they wish to enhance their knowledge about the same. One more effective tip is yet remaining. Let us have a look on that as well.
“Know When to Kern”
This might seem not a big task or an important thing worth your notice, but trust us knowing when to kern helps out a lot!
There are several do’s in the typography and in kerning but, large blocks of copy don’t really need kerning, especially manual kerning because:
- Any kerning problems won’t be visible at typical body copy sizes like 10, 11, or 12 points.
- Many fonts, especially high-quality ones, come with hundreds or even thousands of “kern pairs” built in. Most of the time, these custom-kerned pairs will take into account a typeface’s unique letter shapes and construction, and remove the need for manual kerning, especially when typesetting paragraphs of text.
Besides, going through a page full of text and kerning letters pair by pair would take hours, and you don’t have time for that. Do take the time to kern; just be strategic about which pieces of typography will benefit the most from the extra attention.
There was a time when Kerning has generally been considered something that graphic and print designers do for projects where the typography is static. But since the time’s Internet came along, web designers and programmers too wanted to kern. And now there are tools to help them do that. One is Kerning.js, a script that allows you to manipulate your web typography’s kerning via CSS. With Kerning rules for beginners, one can get a brief idea how and why kerning is important when we are concerned with typographical designs. Hope this article was of help. Do tell us your views in the comments below.