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Re: HELP!--info on kerning and leading quick, please



>I've been all over the internet trying to find a source for learning about
>which letters of the alphabet most need manipulating

There are no rules about this, it all comes down to the individual
typeface and whether it has been designed well. Each letter fits
together with each other letter in a different way, and
professionally designed fonts encode this information as 'kerning
pairs'. Make sure your layout program has automatic kerning
switched on - this will activate that information. There are no
letters which need more manipulating in general, but certain pair
combinations do need more kerning: AV is a classic one. Automatic
kerning will relieve you of the need to do it manually, however.

But if you want to learn about typography, do realise that you are
talking about one of the most incredibly subtle arts, very
specialised, and very visual. You need to learn it over time,
getting used to the subtle visual differences to the point where
you are able to make judgements. If you already have a very fine
sense of graphic art, able to judge relative positions of shapes,
lines and spaces on a page to a fine degree, then by all means
develop a typographic sense too, but don't expect it to come
quickly, and don't expect any quick-fix rules.

There is only one book I've come across that really takes you
through the development of that sense, although there are a many
which tell you what kerning etc. is. The book I highly recommend is
Better Type, by Betty Binns. Subtitled: 'Learn to see subtle
distinctions in the faces and the spaces of text type. Achieve
legible, beautiful, and expressive type every time.' It's a few
years old, but well worth tracking (!) down. It covers leading,
line lengths, kerning, word spacing, character spacing, type
'colour' and more. It presents you with hundreds of examples of
pages set with too much, too little, and just right amounts of
various parameters, and this really does help you to develop some
discrimination - and you may pick up some of this quite quickly if
you are visually sensitive.

But all that is mainly for passages of text.

>I'm responsible for the individual title pages and the first section--title,
>copyright, Table of Contents, and Introduction on a collaborative artists
>book and am having great difficulaty with this lettering task.
>
>I guess, truth be known, I'm looking for a quick fix,

Title pages are the big one, where traditionally the most effort
goes into very fine adjustments. Try reading books by the
legendary Jan Tschichold, eg The Form of the Book. He will make you
realise just how much there is to it. Also recommended, The Thames
and Hudson Manual of Typography - a very helpful and approachable
book. I advise looking at page 155 where a title page proof from
Jan Tschichold is given, together with his typographical marking up
for adjustments. This was the fifth of eight proofs, and even
after that he was asking for about 13 different kerning adjustments
in the title and author, of the order of one or half a point each.
In other words, his visual sense demanded such adjustments, beyond
all 'rules' and previous attempts. You may not be so demanding,
but the spacing of large type, headlines, titles etc. are the most
tricky task of all. Don't believe anyone who tells you that
automatic kerning will do the job for you in these cases. Enlarged
type in headings etc. almost always needs manual adjustment for
the best results, no matter how well designed the typeface. Usually
that means tightening the kerning, not expanding it.

All I can advise for this, though, is to get Betty Binns' books,
familarise yourself with the idea of typographical 'colour', and
then look at the heading etc. as a piece of meaningless graphical
art - adjust the spacings visually until you are happy that
everything is balanced, but don't depart too far from the defaults
unless you can really sense what you are doing! You could also
try copying the spacing and typography of a book you like, by
very accurate measuring! But I have held up pieces of really bad
typography to people at a pre-press bureau and called attention to
a gap so large and inappropriate that one word looked like it was
divided in two, and the person couldn't see what I was talking
about - some people just don't. But that doesn't mean that the
majority of unskilled people still don't respond (subconsciously)
greatly to how legibly the typography is done.

Good luck!

=========================================================
Tim Sheppard                    tim@lilliput-p.win-uk.net
Lilliput Press   -   Publisher of fine books in miniature
England                         http://www.lilliput.co.uk
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