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Design 101: What is Kerning?

Kerning. What’s kerning you may ask? Well, most designers will tell you it’s the cause of many headaches in design. Kerning is the spacing between each letterform in a font. Kerning can vary from very tight kerning (letters very close to each other) all the way to wide kerning (letters spaced far apart.) Wide open kerning can have a very “breathable” feel to it, making it easier and a bit more calming to read. That isn’t to say that tight kerning is hard to read, though sometimes it can be. But when kerning goes wrong, it makes most of us designers cringe. Rules are meant to be followed, and while the world has rules that can be bent a little bit or worked around, a rule that just cannot be broken in the world of design is kerning. When letterforms are evenly spaced, you’re in the clear. The biggest problem with kerning is that your eyes will naturally bring you to the errors in the spacing. This will lead to reading things improperly. There is an enormous amount of bad kerning situations that you can find online showing how two words that are poorly kerned can form a word that wasn’t intended. And most of the time those unexpectedly formed words really surprise you.

bad kerning

good kering


Thanks for reading and if you have any questions for us, leave a comment below or contact us to learn more about kerning, design, or about other aspects of your project.