Consider the following snippets featuring the kerning between L' and the following word expérience, which is a common occurrence in French, for several classic fonts, as well as the relatively new Roboto for comparison.

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Note how tight is that kerning L' for the font Hoefler compared to all the others. This was created with Apple Pages on MacOS Sierra but I get the same result on iOS 10.3, and the same result in Safari on both platforms. Is it by design of the font that this space is so tight? Or is this a bug in the particular version of the OS I am using?

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    Going by your name and location, I am going to assume that you are actually French. This particular kerning pair (capital L + apostrophe + vowel/h) is exceedingly common, and it is nearly always as tight as shown here in Hoefler Text in my experience. It's specifically geared towards French (as well as Italian and Catalan), and it shows up in books, newspapers, magazines, etc. all the time. I wonder that you seem never to have noticed it before. (Personally I agree with you that it's too tight and doesn't look good, but then I'm not French/Italian/Catalan…) Commented Aug 11, 2017 at 7:41
  • Same "problem" with Google's Roboto font (in Firefox, LibreOffice and Gimp...), so it must come from the font.
    – xenoid
    Commented Aug 11, 2017 at 7:49
  • @JanusBahsJacquet I am French indeed. I knew about the concept of kerning but I did not know the English word. I updated my answer with a comparison to other popular fonts. And I added Roboto for comparison.
    – user101625
    Commented Aug 11, 2017 at 15:09
  • @xenoid The kerning for Roboto, as shown by my example, is fine. I am not trained in typography but as an avid reader, I find it appropriate. Hoefler feels far too tight. And Palatino and Times new Roman a bit too loose for the record.
    – user101625
    Commented Aug 11, 2017 at 15:13
  • Condensed is more narrow than plain, so I wonder where you got the font. To me they look like this (using a single quote instead of an apostrophe).
    – xenoid
    Commented Aug 11, 2017 at 17:09

1 Answer 1


This is likely built into the font. It is called kerning (which is similar but distinct from letter spacing) and is used to visually balance type. For more information as to how it helps visually balance type, see this post. You can find some common kerning pairs in this post.

The exact spacing (or "tightness" as you call it) varies depending on the given font depending on the purposes and appearance by the creator. It also might vary depending on the design (in posters and such) because it an be edited further in usage apart from editing the font file.

Kerning can be built into fonts by using good font tools like FontForge or can be done with an existing font using a good editor tool (like Adobe products).

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