October 21, 2023 in 

Kerning is the typographical technique of adjusting the spacing between individual characters or letters within a word to create visually pleasing and harmonious text. Each character is assigned a fixed width when typeset, but because of their differing shapes, some combinations of letters can result in awkward or uneven spacing.

The primary goal of kerning is to eliminate unwanted gaps or overlaps that might disrupt flow or hinder legibility. For example, letter pairs such as VA or TY can create too much space between certain characters. By reducing this space, kerning ensures that each combination looks visually uniform.

In book and publishing contexts, where readability and attractiveness are especially important, well-kerned typography enhances clarity by making words easier to read and allowing the reader’s eye to move smoothly across the lines of text. It also creates a more even rhythm throughout the text block—meaning it looks better—and makes for a more engaging experience for the reader.

Getting kerning right involves manually adjusting space between characters so they look evenly spaced throughout your text block, even at larger sizes where any lack of attention will become obvious.

While basic kerning adjustments are made automatically by modern digital typography systems during typesetting these days (mainly if you’re using professional software), many typographers will still do extra manual kerning work before sending their carefully crafted copy off for print, especially if it’s going into something high quality like a book.

They’ll study specific letter combinations and adjust spacing until everything looks so. Each adjustment contributes subtly to a desired typographic effect you’re supposed to notice if you look for it.

In conclusion, kerning deliberately adjusted letter spacing helps enhance both readability (and therefore accessibility) as well as visual aesthetics, ensuring harmoniously spaced characters wherever there’s a word, no awkward gaps nor annoying collisions between them, resulting in professionally polished-looking printed publications from cover-to-cover.

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