Spacing and Kerning

Morpheus10's picture

hey guys
i really want to know what's the difference between spacing and kerning.
i have gone through many links but i still have doubts.
i have deciphered the following from my studies.
spacing should be done before kerning
now here is my main doubt, we kern after we space and hence we are changing the spacing between letter. so wont the overall spacing change.?

Can anyone point me to some resources where it's explained properly?


emspace's picture

By spacing I wonder if you mean tracking? (the field to the right of the kerning field in InDesign or Illustrator)

Tracking is used for many letters at once (i.e. on whole words like to space up a title made of small caps) and kerning would be to correct the space between a specific pair of letters. At least that's what I do :-)


eliason's picture

You kern only letter combinations between which the standard spacing doesn't work well, due to the shapes of the letters.
So for example in most cases HH, HT, HA will be set by the spacing and not require kerning, but TA will require a modification to the spacing, namely, a kerning pair.

Nick Shinn's picture

In fonts, the thing to investigate is sidebearings.

blank's picture

so wont the overall spacing change.?

Changing the overall spacing is the point. We kern to get an even appearance overall.

Morpheus10's picture

hey guys

thanks for the replies. HH, HT doesn't require kerning and i understand that. but TA requires Kerning. so we are changing the space between t and a.Wont this effect the space between H and T. In other words, we change the spacing using side bearings, don't we do the same in kerning? if not what are we changing in kerning? is the change made to spacing by kerning only exclusive to those pair of characters or does that influence other letter pairs also?


Luma Vine's picture

Well, it depends if you are talking about creating a font or using one. Making a font, you can have specific kerning pairs that are exclusive to that pair of characters. This is different than side bearings. If you are setting type, you can kern individual letter pairs and not affect other instances of that letter pair. In setting type you also can have control of tracking which changes the overall horizontal letter spacing of all the selected text.

Bert Vanderveen's picture

You need to kern where spacing causes ‘faults’. A well spaced font needs a minimum of kerning.

William Berkson's picture

Here is a decent explanation for the user of digital type, with graphics.

In designing type, yes, kerning numbers only apply to the pairs you specify, whereas the side bearings apply everywhere. The kerning adds or subtracts from the side bearings of the pairs you specify. (Actually I think it's only one of the pair, but that doesn't matter.)

The difference between spacing and kerning is not visual, but something the technology defines.

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