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Article: 10 Important Kerning Tips for Better Typography Design

10 Important Kerning Tips for Better Typography Design

Created by HRDR -

The process of doing a design project sometimes has to start with the most tedious step, learning. All of the elements can either make or ruin your overall design project. It includes typography design, which also has all of its nitty-gritty. Believe it or not, one of the most crucial aspects that you have to master in typography is kerning.

But what is it? Also known as space between two different letters, your kerning depth can affect your whole project. It can turn your typography design into something that looks natural or harder to read. With that said, make sure you know how to do it right and avoid mistakes. To help you with it, here are some of the kerning tips that you should note down now!


All The Kerning Tips for typography That You Should Start Implementing 

1. Choosing The Font Or Typefaces 

Did you know how many typefaces that you can use? There are seas of fonts out there that you can pick and use, from the script, serif, sans serif, to the combination. But then, what is the best one? The definite answer goes on your typography design ideas. Make sure that you choose the typefaces that fit your project. 

Underline that some typefaces work for certain typography styles, such as vintage, modern, elegant, or fun. If you wonder how typefaces affect kerning, then take a pointer on how every design has a varying appearance. Script typeface has more flows that need appropriate spaces to avoid unreadable content. Meanwhile, the simple sans serif is perfect for tighter kerning.  

You can also tell that each design has a different kerning default. Thus, the kerning tips that you should jot down are to make sure that you use the actual font to indicate the kern. By using the actual font, it will help you avoid miscalculation. At the same time, by deciding the font, you will have the time to play around with the possible scales or font families. 

Font families can help you determine or create a whole uniformed typography design. For example, you use different fonts for the headline and the subheading. The chance that the family already has the best default setting. But if you use different families, then make sure that every single different scale or font type also has adjusted kerning as well. 

Created by HRDR
Created by Nicki Laatz
Created by Creativemedialab


2. Check And Try The Leading, Tracking, And Kerning 

As said at the previous point, you have to choose the font to determine the kerning. You also need to consider other aspects. They are the font leading and tracking that also about space surrounding your typography. These kerning tips are not far too different from the previous idea. You will have to use the font and try some of the adjustments. 

If you are not following, you can tell the two measurements as the spaces between different lines and letters. Leading is the vertical space. Taking a look and trying this measurement will eventually create a distance or space to breathe for your typography design. It is also crucial since the leading helps you adjust the typesetting layout. 

Meanwhile, the tracking is a lot like kerning. However, the setting measures uniform space width between letters. With some of those details taken care of, you can continue to check and do the kerning. Take an understanding that doing these kerning tips meant to help you create organized and neater typography. 

Created by Nicky Laatz


3. Understand The Visual Space

If you ever find some white space in your typography, it does not always mean a wrong step. One thing for sure, the white space and the kern can be part of the design element as well. Doing it right and true will help you create a perfect visual even with the uneven distance. Yes, your typography design can have diverse kerning due to the typefaces. 

You should take the distance as visual space, not actual space. So, the idea of adjusting the kerning is mainly to make your typography illegible and worthwhile. A little chance in space is not something strange. Your client or audience will not check your design with rulers anyway. So, it does not matter too much. Just do these kerning tips and create the best one.

Created by Sans & Sons


4. Do It Individually 

Even though some people or clients won't bother using rulers to measure the kerning, but you need to make the adjustment individually. One by one, one letter by one letter. Chances that the default or the automatic adjustment in Illustrator, InDesign, or Photoshop will mess up with your typography layout. Thus, making it hard to read or seen by human eyes. 

You will make a typography design for the human eye anyway, so you should fulfill the people's expectations of your project. At the same time, people also have distinct preferences and the ability to digest images. By doing these manual kerning tips, at least you are trying to cope with human minds and ability, not playing with or following the computer's judgment. 

It is also important to understand that typography contains ranges of typefaces and some uniquely built font designs. At some point, the alignment, design, position, layout, or even detailing can make your typography harder to read. Thus, you may have to adjust the typography design kerning individually to fit with your design purpose or appearance. 

For example, you play around or workaround with the scripted typefaces. The swash and stroke details can hinder human eyes from comprehending the typography. Thus, you will need to adjust the kerning for each letter. It gets harder if some of the details appear only in certain conditions, such as lowercase or uppercase. With that in mind, a uniform space will not help a lot. 

Fortunately, you can always adopt some of these kerning tips to improve your typography design. Take your time to do the manual hard work. It will get better as you get used to the practice. It is also a great time to experiment and try a lot of typography options. Do it from the leading and tracking. After that, do the kerning tips so your design will turn in its best.

Created by Ellen Luff


5. Try It In A Groups Of Three 

Until this part, you might find that the process is very hard. It takes time and is also confusing. But, you can practice as you go. But if you want to make the process easier, try to do the kerning tips in groups of three. It will ease the time and also make you find the nitty-gritty detail that you might miss out on in your typography. 

It also works the best when you create a longer typography design. Longer words tend to make designers lazy to take a look at individual kerning. Thus, the best kerning tips are to create three-letter groups and do the kern at the same time. Underline these tips only for the longer word. If you do it for shorter words, it will destroy the purpose of enhancing the visual value. 

So, how you do, it is totally up to you. Just make sure you do the kerning tips as detailed as possible, so it is easy to look at, understandable, and readable. To help you, take the word 'paragraph' as an example. In this word, you can do it with a group of three. Start with the 'par' as the first part. Make sure that the lower or the uppercase design is still apparent and clear. 

After that, you can continue on 'ara' as the second detailing work. Continue with 'rag,' 'agr,' and so on. This method demands you adjust the kerning tips one by one or individually. However, you already made the previous adjustment. Considering how many times you do the measurement will allow you to find out small details on the typography design.

Created by A.Budianto


6. If It Does Not Work, Flip It!

The previous tip helps you gain or understand the details. It also aids you in finding every small possible kerning disaster that can happen in typography. The worst case is that the longer word will distract the designers' minds and attention to detail. Thus, it can make one unable to find or take care of the space in between measurements. 

This kind of problem can happen to everyone, especially for a typography design with aesthetic touch and meaning. Big chance that your perception will be disrupted and affected upon reading the word. At some point, the change of ideas will eventually make your decision in adjusting the kerning and all other details. 

So, how do you avoid this distracting feature? The best way to do it is by flipping the typography design. The major idea is to make sure your eyes and mind will not understand the word or read it. By avoiding reading the word, it will give you a neutral standing about the design. Not only your perception, your way to generate and decorate the design will also be neutral. 

So, how does it work? These kerning tips or hack will force you to focus on the white space and all other typography design details. It improves your keen aspect in understanding every letter or character, including space. Your perception will not be altered by definition, thus giving you better freedom in adjusting the typography measurement. 

Another idea to do it is to mirror the picture. It is easier to do when you try the kerning tips in software. But it gets harder if you are doing the typography as a mural. If it happens, then you can always take a look at different perspectives or angles. Anything that helps you focus on the design rather than the definition. 

If you are not convinced enough, you can take the word thin or heavy as an example. When you see your typography design states thin, high chance that it will play a trick to your mind, it will make your eyes follow the definition, thus create the ideas that you will need to make the kerning tighter. That is why these kerning tips will work as an absolute hack.

Created by Ellen Luff


7. Consider The Spatial Relationship

If you take a look at every character's kerning and shapes, you will find that each of them has differing white spaces. The letter 'o' and 'I' have different spaces, which make 'o' take up more area than the 'I.' When you put the two letters side by side, they will show a very apparent white space. But you can make up for the loss by placing some letters that have spatial relations. 

The spatial relationship between words works at its finest in typography design. When you put down 'A' to 'W,' you will find that the space between each of them can be lessened yet still easy to read. It is because the slanted sides work like a Lego puzzle that goes hand in hand. Creating a unified appearance and eliminating the negative space they leave. 

But the beauty of typography design is the vast possibility of editing. As you do the kerning tips to join some related letters, you can also do some editing for every character. Playing with the kerning is one thing to consider. But you can also arrange the typography letters in such a way that the 'I,' 'O', or 'A 'look awesome standing to each other.

Created by TanType


8. Don't Over Do It

Considering how many elements and details you can add or edit in design, there is a high chance you will add or do more. That wasn't the best case for typography design. The best thing that you should underline is that less is always more. Use fewer typefaces, detail, \edit, and also kerning to stop making your job getting way too much. 

Remember that when you are doing kerning tips, you will make the letter tighter. At some point, making a tighter space helps you adjust the line length and make a neat appearance. But is it always needed? Typography design is also an art that focuses on the visual, which means you also need to make sure the project looks attractive. 

If you kern too much, your lettering detail, message, and overall visual will be ruined. The tighter the letters are, the harder to understand it will be. It gets worse if you add a lot of intricate detail to your typography. So, do the kerning tips with a lot of consideration, though, and visions to avoid any disaster-looking result.

Created by MadeType


9. Consider Two Versions

If you want to succeed with the project and smitten your client, then consider the second version. It is always helpful to have a spare design in case your first detailing works or the kerning misses out on purpose. The versions that you have to prepare are the small or the larger version of your typography design. 

It might sound very trivial and not necessary to do in the meantime, but it will help you greatly if there is a need for scale changes. Underline that your kerning can look different in altered scale or size. At some point, it even affects the readability aspect of your typography job. So to avoid reworking and readjustment, these kerning tips will be the best solution.

But what do kerning tips have to do with this scale? How does it change the whole typography design? You can try rescaling or resizing the large typography with the already adjusted leading, tracking, and kern. When you scale it down, you will have to kern the space again and make it looser. It will make the typography readable and easier to look at.

Created by Ellen Luff


10. Don't Forget The Space Between Words

Last but not least, the kerning tips will be the spacing between words. Most of the time, people lose in detailing and other typography settings but then forget about this one. The space between words is also crucial in completing the whole visual design. Just because you are caught up in kerning, leading, or tracking, it does not mean you should put away other measures. 

The process to adjust the kerning helps you take care of the negative space between the letters. As you do it, it will make the typography design tighter and look compact. To balance the whole layout, you will have to do the same with the space between words. When it is done correctly, space can create a unified impression or make a break in the typography. 

Of course, you don't want the typography design to appear shoddy with the unbalanced distance. But at the same time, you can also play with the space to create focal points or emphasize wording. It also makes the whole appearance less awkward and readable. All of those ideas can only be reached if you use a consistent adjustment. 

Created by Nicky Laatz



For those who are learning typography, the chance that they will find this kind of art is not a piece of cake. You should take careful measurements upon measurements. The simple kerning, tracking, and scale are all crucial parts of typography design. Don't underestimate any of them. You can start by trying some of the mentioned kerning tips.

What do you think of these typography artworks? Let us know which is your favorite one, and feel free to write your comments in the section down below. We hope you can enjoy reading this article, have a great day, and cheers!

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