Space, the final frontier
This famous line from some sci-fi flick that everyone knows the name of but noone will admit to liking is a versatile remark that can even be applied to graphic design, specifically the use of type. Let me let you in on a little secret that graphic designers would rather not share but I will share with you because I want everyone to love and understand typography the way I do. THE SPACE BETWEEN THE LETTERS ARE AS IMPORTANT AS THE LETTERS THEMSELVES. To fully understand this concept let us first go over some key terms that are to be understood before going any further.
kerning- The setting of two letters closer together than is usual by removing space between them.
Leading- The spacing between lines, usually measured in points.
tracking-The spacing between characters in a line of text.This is defined when a font is designed but can often be altered in order to change the appearance of the text or for special effects
You have probably heard these terms before in some other context and meaning something completely different than what they do here, but to know and understand their application in typography will bring you one step closer to an understanding of great advertising.
I was working with a client recently that was looking at a piece I did for them while we talked about it over the phone. He couldn't put his finger on it but there was something different about that particular treatment of type that he liked. I knew exactly what he was referring to when I began to spout off terms that he had no idea about including kerning, leading, and tracking. Although he did not fully understand these principles he was delighted in the end result because it was easy to read, flowed well on the page, and overall made the piece stand out and look great.
To understand these concepts makes you more powerful and makes it easier for you to understand what a designer is talking about when they use these terms. When a designer talks to you about adjusting the kerning they are speaking about a particular letter spacing issue that may only involve two or three letters that do not look correct, but in a headline of just text this could become very important, as changing the spacing between partucular letters may change how the headline functions completely.
On the same page as kerning is tracking. Like kerning tracking adjusts the space between the letters but it does this by line instead of by individual letters. This function is most important for body copy because ledgability is so important especially when people are reading several pages of information you want to make the copy as comfortable to read as possible and adjusting the tracking will do this. It is another simple function that will add a pristine quality to the readability of your piece as well as the overall look of it from a distance that will draw the reader in
The last important function that will sky rocket your knowledge of type and how it is properly used is leading. This represents the space between lines on a page which is arguably one the most important spaces on the page because most fonts are vertically oriented it is important to make sure that these letters are not running into each-other, ruining that legibility. Instead you want that space to exemplify the text by giving the eye breathing room as it understands the the lines and curves of each letter it comes across instead of making the eye fight to understand what it is reading.