I'm working in Illustrator.

The default letter-spacing (Auto) doesn't look very good.

I think changing kerning to Optical is already an improvement.

That said I still think there are a few issues.

EL vs LI


But I'm no expert, so I was looking for some feedback on how to improve it manually.


enter image description here

Full size here

3 Answers 3


There is always kerning issues when you display text on large sizes. You need to kern it manually.

I suggest that you begin with the most difficult pair, in this case RL and and continue by adjusting all the other pairs until you achieve balance.

  • Okay, that's a good start. Maybe make it the same size as in VE or even a little bigger... What do you think about the Es (TER, VER and ZEL)? Should the space between the leg of the R and the L be that small (because there's a bigger gap at the top) or does it need to be bigger? Any thoughts on the Ss? I don't know how to handle them...
    – Cheng Zhaa
    Aug 4, 2014 at 8:53
  • Beginning with the RL is actually even better since it limits how small the distance can be, it must be very small at the bottom and bigger at the top because of the leg. I would give all letters as much space as the RL combinations has at the top. But as you state in the question the optical kerning looks pretty good. Aug 4, 2014 at 10:05
  • "I would give all letters as much space as the RL combinations has at the top." That makes sense. I'll do that. Thanks!
    – Cheng Zhaa
    Aug 4, 2014 at 12:56

I almost always adjust it manually, even in preformatted headlines in our newspaper. Most fonts just aren't built to handle larger sizes and sometimes I feel like font designers spend far too little time on character spacing. No matter, I've got option+left/right ...

I try to talk about some of these things at http://drpgraphicdesign.com/blog/ but, I get overwhelmed with things to talk about. As far as advertisement design, paying special attention to it in headings is extremely important, and under tight deadlines is often skipped honestly, It can make or break a heading ... not so much the smaller type.

  • Hi Dallas, welcome to GDSE and thanks for your input! I think what you have to say about the question is valuable (upvote!) but please refrain from the (imho, unnecessary) promotion of your personal blog--that's what your profile page is for (downvote!). So... I ended up not voting for your answer in either direction. Thanks for your understanding and enjoy the site!
    – Vincent
    Aug 6, 2014 at 9:15

If you're using Illustrator as part of a Creative Cloud account, consider using InDesign rather than Illustrator. InDesign has tools specifically for kerning and moving your work between programs is just like moving between Illustrator and Photoshop.

I hope this helps a little atleast!


  • 1
    I believe the tools in InDesign are exactly the same as in Illustrator. Either way, it's not about the tools. What I need is to be able to identify pairs of characters where the kerning can be improved. A good eye is what I'm missing... if I know where the issues are, I can fix them.
    – Cheng Zhaa
    Aug 4, 2014 at 8:44

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