- [Instructor] Welcome to Type Tips, and in this episode I'm going to be talking about automatic kerning. In InDesign, in Illustrator, and in Photoshop, there are two types of automatic kerning. Automatic kerning is the adjustment of space between letter pairs. There is metrics kerning, and there is optical kerning. Which should you use? Firstly, the difference between the two, metrics looks at the font metrics that are built into the typeface.
Some typeface have many font metrics, and some will have none at all. Optical kerning disregards the metrics, if there are any, and just looks at the character shapes. For the most part, when you're working with your body type, you can use whichever one you prefer. And really you need to try these out because it's going to depend upon how many font metrics there are in the typeface. But the one that looks best is the one to use.
That said, there are certain scenarios where one type of automatic kerning is definitely preferable to another. The first of those is with headlines. Optical kerning typically will give you a tighter result so it's probably more suited to headlines. If I select this type, we see here on my control panel I've chosen optical rather than metrics.
Let's just now zoom out. I'll come and change the color of this type, switch to my swatch panel, and then click on the formatting effects text, and then change the color to red. And then I'll select both, come to my align panel, and I will align them both to the center so they're on top of each other. And we can see that the red type, the optically kerned type, is tighter than the metrics kerning.
A second scenario is when working with monospaced typeface. Now, with monospaced typefaces, you should favor metrics kerning. This is something of an oxymoron perhaps because a monospaced typeface has no kerning. Every letter occupies the same width, so kerning has no place. And this is how a monospaced typeface is designed to work.
With multiple lines, the letters will stack up on top of each other. And if I come to my layers panel and just turn on layer two, you see how the O stacks up on top of the Y, the N on top of the P. Now, if I pan across, we see that with the optically kerned version of this, the same is not true. That's because with optical kerning, InDesign is looking at the character shapes.
And if I insert my cursor between letter pairs, we can see that right here in the kerning field, we can see that we have a negative amount of automatic kerning applied. Whereas with the metrics version, wherever I insert my cursor, that is going to be set to zero. So with monospaced typefaces and, and this is the example that I have below, with tabular numbers, you should use metrics kerning, which in effect is no kerning at all, so that these typefaces and numerals function as they are intended.
With these numerals right here, I am using an OpenType Pro typeface so that if I come to my OpenType options, we see that I have tabular lining as the numeral style. This would also work with tabular oldstyle, tabular, in effect, meaning monospaced. Another time when metrics kerning is going to win out over optical kerning is when working with script typefaces.
Here we see that the letters connect, and this is due to the fact that the type designer has designed the font metrics, has adjusted the space between the characters so that they connect. But if we look at the optical version of this, we see that they don't connect. For example, the Q doesn't quite connect with the U, and the U doesn't quite connect with the I. This is a very common problem. You see designers who will favor optical kerning for the most part for their body type, but they forget to switch it back to metrics kerning when working with script typefaces.
Two more examples. The next is when you are combining typefaces in the same word or text string. Not something that you do often, but when you do, you definitely want to favor optical kerning. And that's because there is no kerning pair to determine the spacing between, in this case, a Minion Pro W and an Antique Olive A. So here we want to kern based upon the letter shapes.
And when I insert my cursor between these pairs, we see that we have minus 96/1000 of an M kerning applied. So, when combining typefaces in the same word, favor optical kerning. And for my last example, when working with novelty display fonts, you will often find that they do not have any kerning metrics. And this is not to disparage them at all.
They definitely have their place. And this font here, which is called Tattoo Ink, which I downloaded from dafont.com, has no kerning metrics. If I put my cursor between any pair, it will continue to read zero in my kerning field. So for that reason, I want to switch to optical kerning. And then I'll put my cursor between letter pairs. And we can see that automatic kerning has been added based upon the character shapes.
And once again, I will come to my swatches, and I'll change the color of this. I will select both and place them on top each other, and we can see that the optically kerned example in red is significantly tighter than the metrics kerned version. So, those are the differences between metrics kerning and optical kerning. One isn't better than the other. It's just a question of using them appropriately.
Note: Because this is an ongoing series, viewers will not receive a certificate of completion.