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I have a left-aligned lettering made of two words that is displayed on two lines. The two words are quite different in length (4 vs 7) and I was wondering if you could point me to the best way to handle this situation: should I try to condense one or enlarge the other or is it ok if the two words are different? What is the main principle to keep in mind?

Thanks

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I don't understand what the end goal would be. Are you trying to get two unequal words to consume the same amount of horizontal space? Kerning is customarily adjusted to better fit characters next to each other, not to align words (in general). –  Scott Dec 9 '13 at 9:40
    
Basically, I would like to understand how you decide wether or not to adjust the space to make the two words occupy the same space. For example, in the case of a logo, is it a good practice to have the name on two lines, left-aligned but not occupying the same horizontal space? Would you vertically align the letters at least? thx –  piede828 Dec 9 '13 at 13:45
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Welcome to GD.SE! A screenshot of an example would be really helpful...we tend to be visual people here :) –  Brendan Dec 9 '13 at 14:08
    
How do you "vertically align the letters at least" if one word has four letters and the other seven? Please provide an example. Everything in design hinges on what one is actually dealing with. –  Andrew Leach Dec 9 '13 at 22:02
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1 Answer 1

A screenshot would greatly help here because really...it depends!

If your lettering is meant to be read easily (a heading for an article), I would not mess with the words too much as to keep legibility. It's ok if the length of the words is different. If you had more than 2 lines, you would have to check if your rag is balanced (you don't want to have a staircase effect on the side where your words are not aligned but it doesn't have to look aligned either.) Something like below:

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--
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and not something like this :

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-

If your lettering is meant in for an expressive display (a logo let's say), occupying all the space might help the legibility in small sizes or just make a bolder statement by the overall shape the words are creating, maybe even adding to the idea you want to communicate. In that case you can try playing with font size, font weights (condensed, extended, light, bold, etc.) and tracking. Stretching the type is not usually a good idea as it messes up the letterforms. If one of the words is much bigger than the other, consider if the emphasis seems logical.

If you want to fill the space without messing with the letters, you could also possibly add a graphic element in the leftover space: an arrow, dots, etc. Always related to the subject you are illustrating.

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