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When and how to kern

From: InDesign Typography

Video: When and how to kern

So when might you want to manually kern your type? I'm not talking about the auto-kerning of Metrics, or Optical, but manual kerning. So here are a few examples. Sometimes when you use a drop cap, depending on the character that you're using, you may find that you have a collision with the characters that come after, and that is indeed the case right here. To fix this, I am going to double-click to insert my cursor between the drop cap and the letter that follows, and then press Option or Alt and the right arrow to increase the space.

When and how to kern

So when might you want to manually kern your type? I'm not talking about the auto-kerning of Metrics, or Optical, but manual kerning. So here are a few examples. Sometimes when you use a drop cap, depending on the character that you're using, you may find that you have a collision with the characters that come after, and that is indeed the case right here. To fix this, I am going to double-click to insert my cursor between the drop cap and the letter that follows, and then press Option or Alt and the right arrow to increase the space.

Now, when I do that, something odd happens. The first time you do that, rather than the space getting looser, it actually jumps all the way over to the left, and gets tighter. That's just the way it is; that just happens. So I'm going to continue to press Option or Alt and the right arrow. Now, since I want to move in large increments, I am also going to throw in the Command or Control key to that combination, and now I let go of the Command or Control key just to move in smaller increments until I get to about there. Now, we can see that when we are applying kerning in this sort of instance, it's moving not just the one line, but however many lines are affected by the drop cap.

So there is one example. Now I am going to move to the next page, and I have here a word that is going to be problematic when we view it at larger sizes. Now, at this text size, we don't need to do anything about it; we are just going to leave it as is. But if I decide that we want to work with this type significantly larger, I am going to copy that text frame, and I am going to scale it up by holding Command and Shift, or Control+Shift, and dragging out to the right, like so.

So what we have here is the A leaning away from the diagonal on the W, and then we have the same sort of thing, but in mirror, with the A and the V, and then we have the angle of the V up against the straight sided character, the I, and then the straight sided edge of the N up against the curve of the G. So a number of issues that we have here; this is a problematic word to be working with at display sizes. So I am going to insert my cursor between these two characters.

And incidentally, just before I do that, it's an old trick that if you want to better see where the kerning problems are in your document, print out the page, look at it upside down, and squint. Now, obviously I can't do that here for you, but we could rotate the spread, and arguably, if we squint out that, perhaps we can more clearly see where the spacing looks a little bit uneven. I think especially between the G and the N, and it looks like we have more space between the N and the I than between the I and the V, and then a bit more space there.

So I'm going to now clear the rotation, and start doing some kerning. I will insert my cursor at that point. I have my kerning unit set to 1, or indeed I don't; good job I checked. I'm now going to press Option or Alt and my left arrow, tightening up that space, and then pressing my right arrow to move to the next letter pair. I'll do a bit more there, move to the next letter pair. Well, here I might even add a little space, and then reduce the space a bit there, and a bit there.

Now, I can't say enough how subjective this is, so if you do this yourself, you are going to get a different result from me. It does just come with practice, and you may be looking at this and thinking, well, I would have done it differently. And truth is, when I look at my own work the next day, I often think, yeah, well I would do that differently as well. And it's another of those things that it's hard to know when to stop, but I think I prefer the result there. Let's just compare that with how it would look without that manual kerning.

So I am just going to select this text now to restore it to the way it was. I will just come and put it back to Metrics. So the one on the top is my manually kerned example, and the one beneath it is just with the auto-kerning alone. Okay, one other example, and that is when working with script typefaces. Script typefaces can suffer at the hands of kerning; auto-kerning, and manual kerning. Now, here I have the same piece of type with different kerning methods applied.

Now, in this case, the Metrics kerning is working well, because it's been designed specifically for this typeface. This being a script typeface, it's very important that the letters actually connect with each other the way they would if it were handwritten. We can see that when Optical kerning is applied, that doesn't actually happen. If we look at the A and the N right there, that is not what we want to have happen at all. That's a sure sign of amateur letter spacing.

We want to fix that, and the easy fix in this case is just to use the more appropriate -- and I think the keyword there is appropriate; there is no right or wrong with Optical or Metrics, it's just appropriate for whatever font you're using, and that's going to fix that problem. Now, if you're working with a script typeface, and you find that the Metrics doesn't work, do look out for where the letters should join, and if they don't, then you will have to come in and apply some manual kerning to make sure that they do. So there we have three examples of when you might want to kern: to fix a character collision with a drop cap, when working with script typefaces, and when working with headline size type, especially type that presents you with problematic letter pairs.

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This video is part of

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InDesign Typography

107 video lessons · 19797 viewers

Nigel French
Author

 
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  1. 4m 4s
    1. Welcome
      55s
    2. Using the exercise files
      51s
    3. Customizing the workspace for type
      2m 18s
  2. 55m 41s
    1. Working with text frames
      8m 26s
    2. Using a primary text frame (CS6 only)
      3m 59s
    3. Understanding text flow methods
      6m 25s
    4. Understanding text threads
      3m 40s
    5. Understanding Smart Text Reflow
      2m 27s
    6. Mocking up pages with placeholder text
      5m 47s
    7. Placing multiple text files
      3m 50s
    8. Using Auto-Size text frames (CS6 only)
      4m 1s
    9. Copying and pasting vs. placing
      2m 25s
    10. Cleaning up text with Find/Change
      5m 46s
    11. Using the Story Editor
      3m 41s
    12. Spanning columns
      5m 14s
  3. 45m 50s
    1. Choosing your type
      6m 46s
    2. Understanding text essentials
      6m 37s
    3. Scaling type
      2m 27s
    4. Using italic and oblique type
      4m 33s
    5. Working with condensed and extended type
      4m 26s
    6. Setting type in all caps
      3m 46s
    7. Setting type in small caps
      4m 21s
    8. Underlining type
      4m 11s
    9. Using superscript and subscript
      4m 35s
    10. Applying baseline shift
      4m 8s
  4. 16m 6s
    1. Understanding type anatomy
      3m 25s
    2. Exploring serif and sans serif
      2m 48s
    3. Comparing points, picas, and ems
      8m 34s
    4. What's in a name?
      1m 19s
  5. 16m 27s
    1. Setting leading
      4m 56s
    2. Avoiding auto-leading
      4m 12s
    3. Leading shortcuts and preferences
      4m 7s
    4. Using autoleading with inline graphics
      3m 12s
  6. 21m 25s
    1. Defining kerning and tracking
      2m 5s
    2. Understanding kerning methods
      5m 10s
    3. When and how to kern
      5m 53s
    4. When and how to track
      8m 17s
  7. 45m 48s
    1. Working with quotes, primes, and apostrophes
      8m 16s
    2. Using dashes
      5m 24s
    3. Using ellipses
      2m 56s
    4. Working with accents and special characters
      4m 1s
    5. Using space characters
      4m 15s
    6. Working with ligatures
      4m 29s
    7. Setting fractions
      3m 56s
    8. Using lining and proportional numerals
      2m 49s
    9. Using alternates, swashes, and ornaments
      5m 2s
    10. Working with optical sizes
      4m 40s
  8. 57m 20s
    1. Understanding alignment
      3m 47s
    2. Working with left-aligned type
      3m 24s
    3. Working with justified type
      7m 5s
    4. Using Optical Margin Alignment
      3m 39s
    5. Determining column width
      4m 53s
    6. Working with center alignment
      5m 36s
    7. Working with right alignment
      1m 22s
    8. Aligning to or away from the spine
      1m 50s
    9. Understanding the Paragraph Composer and Single-line Composer
      3m 44s
    10. Combining alignments
      9m 20s
    11. Using hanging punctuation
      2m 13s
    12. Working with vertical alignment
      10m 27s
  9. 14m 9s
    1. Using first-line indents
      2m 26s
    2. Using indent alternatives
      2m 3s
    3. Working with left and right indents
      4m 0s
    4. Using last-line indents and outdents
      1m 26s
    5. Using paragraph spacing
      4m 14s
  10. 23m 19s
    1. Setting hyphenation
      6m 14s
    2. Working with line breaks and discretionary hyphens
      4m 48s
    3. Balancing ragged lines
      1m 36s
    4. Using the No Break feature and non-breaking characters
      2m 52s
    5. Using frame, column, and page breaks
      3m 42s
    6. Defining Keep Options
      4m 7s
  11. 37m 53s
    1. Understanding tabs
      8m 58s
    2. Considerations for table text
      3m 55s
    3. Table tips and tricks
      11m 55s
    4. Creating a bulleted list
      6m 50s
    5. Creating a numbered list
      3m 46s
    6. Creating a multi-level numbered list
      2m 29s
  12. 23m 12s
    1. Understanding drop caps
      11m 3s
    2. Navigating tricky drop caps
      5m 14s
    3. Using a nested character style with a drop cap
      3m 59s
    4. Other uses of drop caps
      2m 56s
  13. 1h 11m
    1. Understanding paragraph and character styles
      7m 13s
    2. Creating, applying, and editing styles
      7m 3s
    3. Removing overrides
      4m 58s
    4. Creating and applying character styles
      5m 4s
    5. Creating and applying nested styles
      12m 30s
    6. Using GREP styles (regular expressions)
      4m 8s
    7. Creating and applying sequential styles
      6m 19s
    8. Using paragraph rules creatively
      11m 48s
    9. Mapping Word styles
      6m 12s
    10. Working with anchored objects and object styles
      6m 24s
  14. 25m 30s
    1. Applying a text wrap
      6m 7s
    2. Making items ignore a text wrap
      1m 46s
    3. Using text wraps for flexible layouts
      3m 2s
    4. Working with difficult text wraps
      8m 39s
    5. Inverting text wraps
      2m 7s
    6. Setting text wrap preferences
      3m 49s
  15. 29m 33s
    1. Choosing a page size and setting margins
      6m 33s
    2. Setting up columns
      2m 53s
    3. Dividing a page into rows
      3m 27s
    4. Setting up a baseline grid
      5m 40s
    5. Handling baseline grid problems
      3m 37s
    6. Baseline grid tricks
      7m 23s
  16. 12m 19s
    1. Looking at screen documents
      4m 2s
    2. Setting size, leading, and line length onscreen
      3m 13s
    3. Exploring typefaces designed for the screen
      3m 36s
    4. Accessibility: Contrast and color
      1m 28s
  17. 28s
    1. Goodbye
      28s

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