Chapter 3: Typography in Web Design – Kerning, Tracking, Baseline, Leading.  

Kerning/Mortising, Negative/Positive Spacing-Tracking

Kerning-also known as mortising, adjusts character spacing in proportional fonts for an aesthetically pleasing result. This is achieved via moving the letters closer together, otherwise referred to as negative spacing. Tracking or positive spacing on the other hand, moves the letters further apart. When a font is kerned correctly, the area of the two-dimensional blank spaces between each pair of characters is similar. Also, part of a type letter that is not aligned with the type block edge beneath it, is classed as a kern.


In typography, the baseline is the line upon which most letters rest and those that extend beyond it are descenders. In the example below, the letters sit on the pink baseline where as the surpassing letter ‘g’ is the descender.


The distance between the baselines of successive lines of type is denoted as leading in typography. The term originated in the days of hand-typesetting, when thin strips of lead were inserted into the forms to increase the line height in type. Leading is still used in modern page formatting software.

(Continue to Chapter 4: Typography in Web Design – Hyphenation, Emphasis).

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