Letter Spacing: Graphic Designers Guide
Letter spacing has got to be one of the most vital aspects of graphic design.
The majority of the information consumed in a website—or any visual content—happens through reading.
So it makes a lot more sense to pay attention to how your message is presented to the public.
Trained designers understand that letter spacing affects everything in graphic design—from the user interface to the visual design, content strategy, and even branding.
Although, despite having a great significance in design, letter spacing has always been overlooked.
This is why in this article, we’ll find out more about letter spacing and how it can drastically improve designs.
Why is Letter Spacing Important?
In any design, readability should always come first before anything else.
Words act differently depending on the size and background colour they are on.
This is why any letter spacing decision should be to make the text as readable as possible.
Simply adjusting the letter spacing will drastically help readers consume your information faster and more efficiently.
How Letter Spacing Improves Readability
Letter spacing affects the visual density of a word, paragraph, or phrase.
Other factors that also affect readability are line height, paragraph length, font size, and typeface.
If you decrease the spacing, it makes the words appear much more compact and challenging to read.
But if the spacing increases, it creates a more open and airy effect that makes the text easier to read.
Letter Spacing for Headlines
Well-designed fonts usually don’t need many adjustments to them.
However, there are times when more prominent scale headlines make the spaces in-between look a bit out of place and unbalanced.
If your headline text is all uppercase, it will be much harder to read without the right amount of spacing.
Experiment with what works best for the overall design. Try to increase the letter spacing a bit to make a subtle change.
Doing this will give each character just a little bit more room, and it also helps boost readability.
On the contrary, don’t overdo your letter spacing.
Observe how powerful brands such as Google and Apple choose their typeface. Then, use that as a benchmark when you start working on your design.
Letter Spacing for Body Text
Similar to uppercase headlines, more minor body texts are sometimes even harder to read. Depending on the font, a small amount of letter spacing can save the day.
With such a small size, the letters appear to be too close to each other. This can then lead to poor legibility.
A simple trick to fix that is to increase the letter spacing by 1.5%. You’d be surprised to see that the readability will change drastically.
These small changes can make a significant difference in how your overall text performs.
General Rules for Letter Spacing
Line Height Format
Line height with at least 100% space between the two lines is often the perfect measurement for letter spacing.
However, if the line height is above 120%, it reduces the space between the letters and would require some adjustment.
To create looks and to segregate one text from another, using different backgrounds is required.
This is why you would commonly see designers using light colour fonts in a dark background to increase readability.
Don’t be afraid to add whitespace around the characters. This allows the individual characters to emerge and to be recognised more quickly.
But also keep in mind that adding too much space may isolate individual letters.
Thus making it harder for the reader to understand the message.
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