Hand-kerning logos?

superfetz's picture

Mjellow people,

Could somebody link me to some information about kerning letters when designing a typographic logo? - I need to know the basics!

Or is it simply a doing-by-the-eye-issue?



aquatoad's picture

Yes it is doing-by-the-eye. However, here is a tip:

When spacing letters it is impossible to space 2 letter incorrectly. It is the 3rd letter that will determine good spacing. Work through your word in 3 letter increments covering up the other letters. Once done, check the complete word and fine tune.

eg. for the word Aquatoad check Aqu, then qua, uat, ato and so on.

Oh, and pray the word you're spacing isn't LJIIWLA
Some words are bound to have problems. Time to get creative, make ligatures, shave letters etc.


superfetz's picture

Hey Randy,
That was surely a useful tip. I also heard that you could "cheat" by using Indesign's optical text-feature and then export to Illustrator for instance. Still I like to do it the oldschool-way ofcourse :-)

But do you have visual examples showing the kerning-issues between letters?

Thanks again!

aquatoad's picture

I also heard that you could "cheat" by using Indesign's optical text-feature
Don't listen to that nonsense.
For a logo you shouldn't use optical kerning. It's good, but not
good enough. Space it one letter at a time in groups of three.

Don't know if you wanted homework :-)
Try spacing the word ATLANTA

ATLANTA.eps (135.3 k)

Don't let the letters to overlap, but don't be afraid to modify the
letters for better fit. You do this all the time with logos.


frank's picture


The last thing I would do if I were making a logotype would be to keep it as a typeface and kern it. The sizes at which your logotype will be reproduced drastically affect the kerning. You need to do something else Henrik. Convert it to outlines, then kern it until you like it. Try making three versions; very small, medium and very large. Use those sizes as needed.

superfetz's picture

Woo hoo, I love homework :-)

I've slightly modifed on of the letters to get the wanted effect!

Did I pass the test teacher? :-)


application/postscriptATLANTA modified
ATLANTA-modified01.eps (135.1 k)

aquatoad's picture

He he.

Frank, agreed.
Henrik. Off to a nice start. (No grades handed out here :-) I picked the word ATLANTA because it has combinations that need obvious kerning, one real headache, and I was just in Atlanta yesterday.

I might make minor adjustments to things.
1. AT ------TA should have the same spacing
2. ATL looks good
3. LA this is the headache. There will be a hole here. You can minimize it as you did by shortening the L. I might shave a bit more off. It also might suggest a little looser word spacing overall so the hole won't stand out as much.
4. TL vs NT, NT maybe want a bit more space than TL because the N is more dense than the L. What you're trying to do is set up a good rythm between light and dark.

If this was going to be a logo, you might look into an LA ligature, maybe a TL ligature, maybe an NT ligature. If not you might angle the right ends of the T's to mirror the new L. In other words, make this custom not a stock font. This is Frank's point, and a good one. (That and smaller sizes wants looser spacing).

I say maybe and might because your eyes and my eyes see differently. You're eyes might want to narrow the arms on the T. That might help.

Have fun!

frank's picture

> It would help to have an idea as to the style on logotype you > envision. I realize the Atlanta homework is an exercise, but, as an > example, maybe putting the A inside the L would be appropriate.

superfetz's picture

This is funny! Here's my homework part 2.

I've made the suggested adjustments, though I didn't quite follow the part about T's mirror the new L etc. :-(

But what's your oppinion so far?

(This is very useful)

application/octet-streamAtlanta modified part2
ATLANTA-modified02.eps (325.7 k)

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