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How To Adjust Kerning In Word

Once a font is designed, a certain amount of space is designated for inter-character spacing. This spacing determines how close adjacent characters will be to each other. Unfortunately, not all characters will appear the same width when read on a printed page. Depending on the characters, this may cause an illusion that characters are spaced too far apart when in reality they follow the standard spacing conventions for the typeface. This problem normally appears when the left character in a pair has a stroke (a line) that travels diagonally from left to right.

Kerning is the typographical term that describes the process of moving letters closer together, in an effort to overcome the illusion of too much space between letters. This makes the text more readable and aesthetically appealing. In Word, kerning can be adjusted both automatically and manually.

Adjust Kerning

Follow the steps below to learn how:

  1. Select the text whose kerning you would like to adjust.
  2. Press Ctrl+D to display the Font dialog box.
  3. In Word 2007, make sure the Character Spacing tab is selected. In later versions of Word make sure the Advanced tab is selected. This particular post pertains to Microsoft Word versions 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 365.

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  1. Select Kerning for Fonts.
  2. Adjust the character point size to indicate when Word should start adjusting kerning.
  3. Click on OK.

In most cases, this type of kerning will do nicely. There may be times, however, when you would like to manually adjust the kerning between two characters. (i.e., you may want to create some special effect for the characters).

Manual Adjustment

Follow the steps below to learn how:

  1. Select the text whose kerning you would like to adjust.
  2. Press Ctrl+D to display the Font dialog box.
  3. In Word 2007 be sure the Character Spacing tab is selected. In later versions of Word make sure the Advanced tab is selected.
  4. Deselect the Kerning for Fonts check box.
  5. In the Spacing drop-down list, select Expanded or Condensed, depending on whether you want to move the characters further apart or closer together.
  6. In the By box to the right of the Spacing drop-down list, indicate the amount of space (in points) by which the character spacing should be adjusted.
  7. Click on OK.

4 thoughts on “How To Adjust Kerning In Word”

  1. Hello, Carol.

    Thank you for the tip, and the opportunity to reply.

    MS Word version 18.something ‘sbroke. When setting character spacing between a pair of characters, it insists on setting spacing between the pair, AND between the character to the right and it’s neighbor to the right!

    The only solution I’ve found was to ALSO set spacing between the offending pair was to then set it to normal.

    Works, but’s cumbersome. What am I missing?

    Thanks,
    STeve

  2. Thanks for including the “CTRL + D” instructions, as the layout on Macs looks different and it’s difficult to manually find the Advanced Font toolbox. For Mac Users, CMD + D opens up these options.

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