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Seth Taylor Graphic Design

Simple Kerning Exercise

I came across a Utah company that I have a lot of respect for for many reasons and noticed a weakness in the typography of their corporate logo. Kerning. For those of you who may not be familiar with the term, kerning is the space between pairs of letters. Applications like Adobe Illustrator and InDesign have excellent tools for adjusting your fonts to look excellent at many levels. (photoshop on the other hand seems to have significant problems reading the embedded kerning pairs of fonts)

Have you ever looked at a sign and thought, “man, something about that looks really low quality” but couldn’t pin down what the problem was? Even though the fonts were nicely sized, colors tastefully chosen, and correctly spelled, the kerning may have been misadjusted. Viewers make subconscious decisions about reliability and having a logotype or signage well kerned will help clearly communicate quality.

One of the simplest ways to kern a word is to view a set of three letters and compare their spacing, adjust any letters to the proper position for consistent spacing, then proceed to do the same test for the rest of the letter combinations.

There are finer details of kerning that I won’t discuss in this post, but you can help your logotypes read properly by taking extra time to adjust the spacing between the letters. There is never a good reason to overlook kerning when creating a logo that will represent a company and oftentimes be the first way a company is introduced to a new prospect.

As you can see in the example below the original directpointe logotype seems to divide the word into sets of “dir”, “e”, “c”, “tp”, “o”, “inte”. I’ve quickly kerned the type to feel and read better.
directpointe kerning

I don’t know if you will clearly see it on your screen, but this font also suffers from a slightly heavier “d” and “p” weight. Consistency and craftsmanship in font weight creation can also help text read and feel proper and help the kerning appear more correct.

Exercise files

I’ve uploaded a Illustrator/PDF kerning file for you to work with. The second layer is presently invisible. After you’ve kerned the type, make the layer visible and compare. I’d be interested in seeing your versions.

Category: Typography

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