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Re: kerning and leading

Kerning and leading are the most misunderstood terms in the world of digital
typesetting. It has always been necessary for me to use letterpress type to
explain it to students who ask about either.

Kerning in metal type refers to a type face designer's efforts to deal with
character fit. Leading refers to the amount of lead inserted between lines
of metal type. This lead can be strips of lead or cast into the type.

Kerning in digital typesetting is mostly a system of allowing for
interletter spacing. Except in type of 18 pt or larger, it is a very
difficult thing to work with on the part of the computer user. The type
designer should take care of such issues. If not the type designer, then the
software should have the ability to recognize character fit problems. I look
at kerning as dealing with horizontal spacing for copy fit, while leading
deals with vertical spacing for copy fit.

As Claire suggested, spend some time setting type in metal, and most of the
issues raised by the kerning and leading questions will be answered.

prints by AJ
Austin Jones
Point Pleasant, WV  USA

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