Join Tim Grey for an in-depth discussion in this video Kerning and tracking, part of Photoshop CS6: Text.
I think there's a tendency to think of the space between letters as being somewhat fixed. And in fact, nothing could be further from the truth. And there are a couple of ways that we can modify the spacing between letters and these involve Tracking and Kerning. Tracking is the overall space in between letters, and kerning is the space between individual letters. That might sound like the same thing, and in fact these terms are confused on a regular basis. Let's take a look at these different options in action. I'll go ahead and start by double clicking on my Text layer, and then I'm going to select just the second word here, the word wavy, so that we can see the difference between the word very and the word wavy as I adjust the, tracking for just one word here. The tracking settings are found on the Character panel, so I'll go ahead and click on the panel Pop-up button on the options bar, and that will bring up both the Character and Paragraph panels.
And then on the Paragraph panel, I'm going to adjust the tracking, and that is adjusted using a Pop-up here and the default is zero. In other words, the default spacing, or no additional spacing one way or the other, between individual letters. As you can see, I'm able to choose a positive value, which will spread the letters apart further or a negative value. I'll go ahead, for example, and just choose a positive value of 25, and you'll see that additional space has been added in between each individual letter.
Every letter has been spread out exactly the same amount. I'll g ahead and click inside the tracking field on the Character panel and then I'll hold the Shift key while pressing the up arrow button. And you'll see that I'm increasing the value of that tracking so I'm spreading out the letters in this word rather significantly. I'll go ahead and reduce the value and you'll see that when we get to a negative value the letters get squeezed together. In this case I've taken the value down so far that the letters are literally overlapping each other. But I can adjust that setting, I'll just use the up and down arrow keys here now but you can see, I can still have a rather significant impact on the overall text.
I can spread those letters apart or squeeze them closer together. But you'll notice for example, we get to a situation where the W and the A still have a fair amount of space in between them because the A in effect can tuck itself in underneath the W. And the A and V are very close but not touching but the V and Y are actually touching, they are already overlapping with each other. In most cases when you're just in tracking, you want to maintain atleast some space. Between all letters but if you then want to adjust the space between individual letters that's where kerning comes into play.
With kerning we don't actually need to select text in fact if you select text you'll see that we don't have the various options for kerning actually available their deemed out on the Pop-up menu. Instead I want to place my insertion point in between the letters that I want to adjust. So between the letters that I want to bring closer together or further apart. So with my insertion point between the letters V and E in very, for example, I'll go ahead and click inside of the kerning box. And then I'll press up arrow to spread those letters further apart.
You'll see once again with a positive value those two letters and only those two letters are being spread further apart. But I can also reduce the value so I'll press the down arrow key to reduce the value down to a negative value. And then in fact I'll continue adjusting that value so I can tuck the letter E underneath, as it were, the letter V. Getting those letters very close, so that they really blend in a little bit better. And in fact, by doing this, I'm able to create a situation where the spacing actually appears to be even. Because the space between the letters themselves, is about the same as the space between other letters in the word.
Even though the V is overlapping on top of the letter E. So if you want to adjust the space in between all letters in a word, you'll want to adjust the tracking either up or down, if you want to increase or decrease the space between those letters. But if you want to adjust the space between individual sets of letters, that's where kerning comes into play. And again a positive value will spread those letters further apart and a negative value will bring them closer together. So between tracking and kerning we can really fine tune the appearance of keywords within our documents.
- Type tool basics
- Editing, moving, and aligning text
- Basic text attributes
- Character and Paragraph panels overview
- Kerning and tracking
- Vertical and horizontal scaling
- Transforming text
- Adding layer effects
- Putting an image inside text