kerningTurn it on

Kern­ing is the ad­just­ment of spe­cific pairs of let­ters to im­prove spac­ing and fit. (It’s dis­tinct from let­terspac­ing, which af­fects all pairs.) Most fonts come with hun­dreds and some­times thou­sands of kern­ing pairs in­serted by the font designer.

Be­low, no­tice how kern­ing re­duces the large gaps be­tween cer­tain let­ter pairs, mak­ing them con­sis­tent with the rest of the font.

Al­ways use kern­ing. If you use para­graph and char­ac­ter styles, turn on kern­ing as part of your style definitions.

How to turn on kerning

Word Right-click in the text and se­lect Font from the menu. Click the Advanced tab. Check the box that says Kerning for fonts ____ Points and above. Put the num­ber 8 in the point-size box.

Pages Kern­ing is on by de­fault and can­not be turned off.

CSS text-ren­der­ing: op­ti­mizeLeg­i­bil­ity, and en­able the Open­Type fea­ture kern

by the way
  • Pro­fes­sional page-lay­out pro­grams make it pos­si­ble to man­u­ally kern let­ter pairs. For pro­fes­sional ty­pog­ra­phers, this is a manda­tory skill, but for every­one else, the built-in kern­ing is adequate.

  • One of those pro­grams, Adobe In­De­sign, has a fea­ture loathed by every type de­signer in the galaxy: theop­ti­cal” kern­ing op­tion, found in the for­mat­ting tool­bar. When you ac­ti­vate op­ti­cal kern­ing, In­De­sign ig­nores the kern­ing that’s in the font and ap­plies a spac­ing al­go­rithm to the let­ters. This is akin to putting your fine cash­mere sweater in the wash­ing ma­chine. Don’t be fooled by the be­nign name—it will man­gle your font. Al­ways use themet­rics” option.