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Kerning is the process of adjusting the spacing between individual letter forms. It’s mainly used in typography to achieve visually pleasing spacing over a range of characters. Modern software programs usually provide an autokerning feature, however it’s rarely a sufficient alternative for manual kerning.
Many people are oblivious to kerning. If you asked a random person on the street if they knew what “kerning” means, they’d probably have no idea. I personally don’t expect people to know what kerning means, but designers should. Proper kerning usually separates the work of professional designers from that of ‘apprentice’ or ‘wanna-be’ designers. You can clearly see when a designer is trying to fake it until he or she makes it.
After you learn about kerning, your life will change. Suddenly you will start seeing uneven spacing everywhere which will most likely irk you. Some people might see you as a snob for bringing it up, but don’t pay attention to them. Just because you know something they don’t, does not make you the bad guy. This kind of problem happens to audiophiles too. Most “regular” people look down on them and laugh just because they’re enthusiastic about high-fidelity sound reproduction. Quite sad…
I wish more businesses would know about kerning. It would save them unneeded headaches of poorly printed business cards, letters, custom signs, packaging, and other miscellaneous items they’ve design themselves. Today I collected some amusing examples of kerning gone wrong. If you’re designer, get ready for some sand in your eyes. Enjoy!