Wondering about kerning, tracking, and leading? Designers are very detail oriented. We know the importance of space in design, especially when dealing with typography. And you can learn how to fine-tune the spacing of your work by studying some basic typography terms.
Got a minute? Master these terms by following along with our quick lessons! Learn more about kerning, tracking, and leading in this video from the Envato Tuts+ YouTube channel:
What Is Kerning in Typography?
So, what is kerning in typography? The kerning definition in typography is both a term and a process. It not only refers to the spacing between two letters, but is also defined as the process of adjusting these spaces manually. Kerning is best used when adjusting logos, headlines, and typographic compositions.
"The goal of kerning is to have equal distance between two characters so the final word looks balanced and evenly spaced. Most typefaces are designed with a set kerning between specific characters, but some aren't kerned by default." Instructor Laura Keung.
Interested in learning how to do kerning in different software? These resources are for you:
- How to: Kerning Text in IllustratorAndrei Marius23 Jul 2022
- How to Adjust Kerning in PhotoshopMissChatz18 May 2022
- A to Z of InDesign: Tips, Tricks, & Hacks!Daisy Ein01 Feb 2021
- How to Kern a Font in Cricut Design SpaceKelly Rossouw23 May 2022
What Is Tracking in Typography?
Now let's talk about what is tracking in typography. Also known as "letter-spacing", Tracking refers to the overall spacing of letters (and not just two characters), allowing you to adjust the spaces in any text uniformly.
"As opposed to kerning, character tracking applies to a whole word, or characters in general. Depending on the font, you might need to add horizontal space to a block of text to fix the line breaks and avoid odd-shaped rags, orphans, and widows. The key with tracking type is to find a good balance." Instructor Laura Keung.
If you'd like to read more about the typography tracking definition, tracking vs. leading, and other design terms, check out these articles:
- Readability and Typesetting Basics: Kerning, Tracking, Leading, and More!Laura Keung30 Jun 2021
- 65 Design Terms You Should KnowLaura Keung29 May 2022
What Is Leading in Typography?
Last but not least, let's learn about leading in typography. To add more space between the lines of a paragraph, you'll need to adjust the Leading. Increase the number for a quick double-spacing effect or for more readability.
Leading determines the distance between multiple lines of text. This ensures that the lines aren’t touching and that there’s enough space to read the lines comfortably. Instructor Laura Keung.
Learn more about the leading definition in typography and how to do it in different software:
- How to Change the Leading in InDesignLaura Keung07 Aug 2022
- How to Adjust Leading in IllustratorAndrei Marius04 Jul 2022
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Learn More About Typography
Here we've covered the typography tracking definition, the kerning definition in typography, and answered the question, "What is leading in typography?" The start of your design career begins with more knowledge. Learn from our experts to help build your skills over time! Check out these tutorials to learn more:
- What Is Typography?Melody Nieves09 Aug 2021
- 5 Typography Secrets to Transform Your DesignsGrace Fussell16 Nov 2016
- Typography: The Anatomy of a LetterMelody Nieves07 Nov 2021
- A to Z of Typography: Tips, Tricks, and Hacks!Laura Keung21 Oct 2021
- The Ultimate Guide to Basic TypographyLaura Keung16 Jul 2020
- 100 Best Typography & Font Tutorials for Every DesignerDaisy Ein17 Oct 2020
- What are Ascenders and Descenders in Typography?MissChatz10 Apr 2022
- What Are Cap Height and X Height in Typography?MissChatz22 Feb 2022
Editorial Note: This post has been updated with contributions from Maria Villanueva. Maria is the Associate Editor of the Tuts+ Design channel.