Is kerning also applied when there is a space between characters?

The Wikipedia article stats that kerning is

the process of adjusting the spacing between characters in a proportional font, usually to achieve a visually pleasing result.

For intance when we look at the word Typography

  • a metric kerning of InDesign or
  • no kerning

could be used as the following example demonstrates:

example for kerning between a "T" and a "y"

I wonder now what happens when two characters are separated by a space as the next example shows:

example for kerning  between a "T" and a "y" separated by a space
The first “T ypogrphy” uses metric kerning , the latter no kerning (0).

Now, is it common to use kerning in this case too like there wouldn’t be a separator in-between the T and y?

Note: The sans-serif typeface Arial was used in the examples.


You are not seeing the same kerning as in between the “T” and “y”.

Kerning is applied between characters, yes, but do not forget a space is also a character.

If you select ‘metrics’ in InDesign, it uses the values supplied in the font file. Therefore, the small difference you see must be taken from information in the font.

Checking arial.ttf I find lots of capitals are kerned against the space, both before (space A, space T) and after (A space, L space). Your T y and T space are listed as

T y -> -113
T space -> -37

These values differ from InDesign’s, because it is in design units. For arial.ttf, this value is 2048. InDesign shows it in 1000ths, so for the T-space it shows 37*1000/2048 = 18 (for kerning, it seems it always discards the decimals).

As to whether this is common: for Arial, every kern pairs using space is combined with a capital character, with only a single exception:

quote right space -> -76

So it seems for this font, the designers (“Robin Nicholas, Patricia Saunders 1982”) deliberately chose to ever so slightly kern the most “open” capitals. Other designers will have made similar decisions for other fonts.

Source : Link , Question Author : elegent , Answer Author : Jongware

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