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Learn How Kerning and Tracking are Defined in InDesign


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Defining kerning and tracking

In this chapter, we are going to be looking at kerning, and tracking; two very related, but distinctly different ways of adjusting the space between your characters. So what is the difference? Well, it's this. I am going to begin with tracking, and I am going to select a paragraph of text. Now, if I want to adjust the space between these characters, I can use this keyboard shortcut to track; Option or Alt and the left arrow, and that's going to reduce the space between the characters, including the word spaces. That value is going to appear right there on the control panel.

You can apply tracking by choosing one of these predetermined amounts, or just by typing in a value in this field. Now, if, on the other hand, I want to adjust the space between a pair of characters, then that's kerning. And there is the essential difference, because both kerning and tracking use the same keyboard shortcuts. The difference is, when you have a range of text selected, you are tracking; when you have your cursor inserted between a pair of characters, you are kerning. And you would only want to apply manual kerning, as I'm about to here, when you're working with display type.

It's not relevant when applied to body type, although there is a different type of kerning, and that's auto kerning, which is applied to all of our text. I will be talking about that in the next movie. But if I wanted to manually adjust the space between these two characters, first of all, I'd want to get it nice and close. This is a letter combination that I think would benefit from a little bit of kerning, and that's to do with the letter shapes. We have a curved character, the C, which is essentially curving away from the vertical side of the N, so it looks like there's a little bit more space.

And to apply the kerning, same keyboard shortcut, Option or Alt and the left arrow, and that's just going to bring those characters to the right of the cursor slightly over to the left, tightening up that space, with the goal of making it look like the space between all of the characters is uniform. So that's the difference between kerning and tracking.

Defining kerning and tracking
Video duration: 2m 5s 9h 7m Intermediate Updated Nov 12, 2014

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Defining kerning and tracking provides you with in-depth training on Design. Taught by Nigel French as part of the InDesign Typography (2012)

Subject:
Design
Software:
InDesign
Author:
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