Letterspacing - AMA Manual of Style

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Annette Flanagin

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Letterspacing refers to the space between letters and other characters. Ideally, the spaces between letters should be balanced. There are no absolute values for optimal letterspacing, but type size and column width are interdependent in design and may affect reading comprehension. Kerning (adjusting the space between characters) is often used to modify spacing between pairs of characters to bring letters closer together or further apart in an attempt to fit words into a defined space (ie, in text that uses justified columns rather than ragged right line ends). Kerning is typically done in units of 1, 2, or 3. The more kerning units used, the closer the letters become. Kerning should be used cautiously to avoid the merging of letters and reducing legibility.1-3 See Figure 6 for examples of changes in the appearance of a line of type that occur by changing the letterspacing.

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