Kerning refers to the adjustment of space between two individual letters in a piece of text to improve its visual appearance and readability. It primarily focuses on consistent and proportional spacing in typography, making text more aesthetically pleasing. Graphic designers and typographers often apply kerning to fine-tune the appearance of headlines, logos, and other text-based designs.


The phonetic pronunciation of the keyword “kerning” is: /ˈkɜr·nɪŋ/

Key Takeaways

  1. Kerning refers to the adjustment of the space between individual characters in a word or string of text, improving its visual appearance and readability.
  2. Proper kerning is crucial for graphic design, typography, and digital publishing as it greatly impacts the legibility and aesthetics of the text.
  3. Kerning can be applied manually or automatically, with graphic design software typically offering built-in kerning features; however, manual adjustments may be needed for optimal results.


Kerning is an essential aspect of typography because it enhances the visual appearance and readability of text by adjusting the space between individual characters.

In graphic design, web design, and print, proper kerning ensures that the text looks well-balanced, professional, and aesthetically pleasing.

This optimization of character spacing eliminates any awkward gaps and prevents overlapping while maintaining a consistent flow of the text.

Additionally, effective kerning contributes to improved communication by reducing potential misinterpretations or distractions for the reader.

Ultimately, good kerning significantly contributes to the overall success of any design or written content where the presentation of text matters.


Kerning is a crucial concept in typography that centers around the visual harmony and legibility of a text. The primary purpose of kerning is to optimize the spacing between individual character pairs in order to create a uniform, seamless flow.

It’s essential in various contexts such as graphic design, web design, and publishing, where appearance and ease of readability contribute to the overall effectiveness and impact of a message. Proper kerning ensures a professional, polished finish to printed or digital content, elevating the value of the work it represents.

In the process of manual kerning, designers carefully examine and adjust the space between every pair of characters, enhancing a font’s overall balance and aesthetics. However, thanks to the development of digital typography tools, many fonts now come equipped with built-in kerning tables that automatically provide optimal spacing for character pairs.

Nonetheless, designers often fine-tune these automatic adjustments in specialized cases when working with logos or large headlines that require additional scrutiny. By mastering kerning when crafting type-based designs, whether it’s for a book cover or website, creators significantly refine their work, illustrating the power of well-executed typography.

Examples of Kerning

Kerning refers to the adjustment of space between characters in typography to achieve visually balanced and aesthetically pleasing text. Here are three real-world examples of kerning:

Graphic Design: Kerning is frequently used by graphic designers to create visually attractive text in logos, posters, brochures, and other marketing materials. To ensure that text looks professional and harmonious, designers often adjust kerning manually rather than relying on the default settings.

Web Design: In web design, CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) provides “letter-spacing” and “word-spacing” properties to control kerning for text on websites. Good kerning is essential in web design, as it increases readability and creates a better user experience.

Book Publishing: In book publishing, typography plays a significant role in ensuring legible and visually pleasing text. Whether it’s a physical book or an e-book, publishers pay close attention to kerning – particularly for titles, chapter headings, and drop caps. Well-kerned text not only enhances the book’s appearance but also improves the reading experience.

FAQ: Kerning

What is kerning?

Kerning refers to the process of adjusting the spacing between individual letter pairs in a piece of text. It’s used to achieve a visually balanced and appealing appearance in typography, improving the readability and overall look of the text.

Why is kerning important?

Kerning helps to create an even and harmonious flow of text, preventing uneven and distracting gaps that may occur due to the shapes of specific letter pairs. Proper kerning can increase the readability and overall aesthetic appeal of the text, and is especially important for large or prominent text, such as headlines and logos.

What’s the difference between kerning and tracking?

While kerning refers to the adjustment of space between individual letter pairs, tracking involves the uniform adjustment of spacing throughout a group of letters or an entire text. Tracking sets the overall letter-spacing for a block of text, while kerning focuses on refining the spacing between specific letter pairs for a more balanced appearance.

How can I adjust kerning in my design software?

The process of adjusting kerning will vary depending on the design software you are using. In most programs like Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, or InDesign, you can find kerning settings by selecting the text tool, highlighting the letters you want to adjust, and adjusting the kerning value in the character or properties panel. Some software may also have an option for automatic kerning, which adjusts the spacing based on preset rules.

Is kerning only used for printed text?

No, kerning is important for both printed and digital text. Whether you’re designing a printed brochure, a website, or an app, properly kerned text will lead to a better user experience and a more visually appealing design. In CSS for web design, you can adjust text kerning using the letter-spacing property to achieve the desired spacing between letters.

Related Technology Terms

  • Typography
  • Letter-spacing
  • Font design
  • Graphic design
  • Typesetting

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