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Advanced Spacing

Lesson 7 from: Advanced Typography: Fine Tuning and Finessing

Ilene Strizver

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Lesson Info

7. Advanced Spacing

Lesson Info

Advanced Spacing

One of my pet peeves, I'm sure you've heard of this typeface helvetica issue this helvetica annoy or no, however you practice that you pronounce it, pronounce it. Okay, so I'm showing you many different sizes of helvetica. Helvetica was really intended to be used for large sizes for display, but these days you see it all over the place for text, okay? And it drives me nuts because they use it in magazines and ads, and you can hardly read it. The characters are all squished and and all of that. So what? I'm going to show you, I'm going to talk, go back and forth and again, this is a kind of want you to understand the concept because everyone is seeing the type in a different size, depending upon where they're viewing it. So you might for you and people at at home. It's some of them might look too tired to tighter to open. But it's the concept of what I'm going to show you that's important. Okay, so these all have zero tracking. These are exactly the way the font sets from. Very sold two...

. Very large here's here's. What I think looks better. The bottom one is the same, if it just a little it's just the way digital data reproduces on monitors. Ok, so I'm telling you, the bottom one is exactly the same. The one right above it. It's plus ten tracking plus twenty plus thirty five plus fifty. And I have the text, the real small text at plus eighty. So I'm just going to go back and forth because I want you to see, okay, got it. So, I mean this if you pay attention to this and you do this on occasion, I'm telling you you're gonna have knowledge and a skill that very few people know to even do. Ok, um, and and and you're going to be ableto months recommending you use helvetica for text. But whatever it is, you could do it, there's so many people using it. But it's, just the concept of understanding that you make gradual changes is in the spacing as a display typeface is set smaller. Okay, so on the same page of you have to say that you wanted to look what the idea is that they look like you haven't done anything, you know? Because this one, if I did nothing, it looks like the middle setting is, but looks like I opened the tracking okay so I wanted to be seen with I want you to have it look scene with so you go from the top to the bottom and it doesn't look like you did anything that's the objective it shouldn't be a noticeably open to open or two tight spacing okay, I'll show you another example well first I'll show you a little bit more run because because again one of my pet piece okay, so this is another example the top example is what I see very often it might look as bad to you because you're not seeing it at sixteen point in print you're seeing it on a screen but nevertheless this is set the top example of helvetica annoy with no tracking it said sixteen on auto leading nineteen point to andi I think it's it's too tight I know it's too tight and print I've seen it all the time all the time and it becomes hard to read people's characters or was crashing so below it I did it a little bit of letting I think it helps so I went instead of from nineteen point two auto letting I went to twenty one leading twenty one point leading and I added plus twenty tracking so can you see it might seem subtle but can you see how the bottom example is a little more even it has a little more air to it it's a little bit easier to read and I can tell you if whether you're printing with it where you might have, you know, ink bleed something like that if you using it online on a website where you have pixels it might look even worse in these days you know, you could open spacing somebody have a certain degree of control over that so something like this in a big car ad or something like that could really make the difference especially if you're doing it reverse oh, my god, you really better pay attention because that makes things tends to make things worse she'll show you in a minute. Um you really want to pay attention to these details? Okay, so here's a typeface that looks pretty good for tex okay, but once you start avenir avenir next that's lina type has revised and re released a number of these like hell vatican oi and avenir next and done some improvement so that's why you see these names that are partially familiar and partially not okay? So what you see on the top is not so bad but as it gets larger tends to look open so this is the opposite situation of helvetica. Okay here's what I did the text on the top stays the same. I gradually reduced the tracking as it got larger, so as I said as text type gets larger it tends to look to open so you tighten as things get larger, you open his things, get smaller, big difference. Okay, now here's an instance where you have a rather bold I believe this is didn't condenser I could be wrong. Um, you have a setting with a heavy typeface. Okay, let me tell you something about heavier, bold waits even in a family that is primarily meant for text when you have a bold or an extra bold or a black or an ultra wait especially the black and ultra theyare not really designed for text, even in a text family, they are really meant for display and full larges settings there just companions too, to that typeface. So as setting like this because it's such a heavy setting and I'm not saying you shouldn't use it because sometimes it works well for captions or that sub heads or small amounts of copy. Um, you want to open the tracking slightly if you're using a very heavy typeface. Okay, so what you see on the left has no traffic tracking what you see on the right it's just plus twenty. So it's it's not a big difference, but it's enough of a difference if you look back and forth that it has a better overall color and texture, okay, and it also increases and improves the readability now you take the same block of text and you put it in reverse when you reverse type a lot of times it makes the bad things look worse so sometimes you might need to actually change what you would end as tracking two regular type black on white and ugh reverse it and so what I did on the bottom and I don't even it still looks too tight to me actually from here, you know, maybe could open a little more so the bottom example on reverse is plus twenty five tracking okay any let me just stop for a second because that was it's I mean it's simple but it's not simple. So any any questions from this audience on the track because it is tracking available in paragraph options so justin, if you wanted a paragraph styles I mean you know you could use it just for two characters it's off of the character tab it's not off of the paragraph tab okay, which means that it applies to either what you highlight the characters you highlight or if you click on the text box or text frame it will do the whole thing and I believe it's also an option you can select in styles ok so you could do is little laura's much as you want with that so let's say you have a paragraph and you change typefaces in the paragraph if you have a lead in in a bowl of heavy, bold franklin gothic and then you have the rest of the paragraph set in castellan you don't want the whole paragraph to open up you just want that lead in so it's an individual um option okay do we have any questions on yeah, we have one that just came in from tien harvey and they said do tracking size letting etcetera do they fluctuate in such a way that there are potentially more than one right way to adjust given context I guess we're trying to figure out you know, best practices here but they're going to change depending on what your goal is right? They'll change by your goal but they'll also change by taste within a degree a lot of the recommendations I'm making a lot of the examples I'm showing you look good to me or look good to me on my screen at home at the size that I'm looking at you know what? I'm looking at things here the environment changes the screen resolution the screen quality change is that how it looks? You know? So it changes for everyone but in terms of general readability to me that's I would say that's a fixed factor although everyone might have a different opinion on how much track it so I believe that with a lot of these things there is a a an area of good taste which goes from here to here okay and then you go to the other ends of that really to titan really to open where I just think it's not acceptable but I never say that mine this is a true with current ing that there is not usually one perfect there just isn't there isn't it's an optical thing and we could have the best typographer zone the planet sitting and disagreeing over little minutia but we all agree on the generalities of what good spacing is and so everyone solution might very slightly within that well we had a similar question from jane coombs in the chat room about which which way would facilitate the fastest reading if you're trying to create something that's going to be very fast to read well that has more to do with just the tracking I mean you want to get tracking you want to get the letter spacing to be not to open and not too too tight I mean for whatever that means e think too tight is probably going to make it harder to read than to open a cz long as it's not totally letter space but of course it depends on the right pick is selecting the right type face the size the margins I mean every other factor in the design effects the readability and the choice of the typeface affects the ledge ability so you can extract one factor and not consider the others okay, thank you. Okay, so we'll we'll move on with this type on a curve, ok? It just sort of popped this in here because it is a space in consideration. Um and a lot of a lot of people use this for different projects and whatever. And although it probably well, it involves a little bit of tracking and current ing but it's, just something I want you to be aware of if you're setting type on a curve, it does present challenges or problems or opportunities to improve your your work, because even if you take something that looks like it's, the spacing is balance. Look what happens when you put it on a curve. I did not change the tracking. I did nothing to tracking or spacing, but what happens is when you put it on this kind of a curve it's kind of inserting on inverted triangle of white space between every character you know. And as I was thinking of this, I mean, I teach this all the time, but as I was putting together this image, I highlighted it and I went, oh, wow, this is exactly what I've been talking about. So when you highlight that's why it took a screenshot of this just to show you what's happening, this is, you know, in design, just highlighting that word and you can see how the spacing eyes added to the tops of all the characters. So so what do you do about it? Well, first, you really have to be aware that that it's an issue when you start to see not only is it evenly inserting space, but certain relationships become two more open than others. Okay? And it also affects the word spacing. So this is unimproved version. I basically reduced the tracking, and I believe I reduce some of the words spacing a little bit more. I did what I thought it needed. Toe look better. Okay. On dso what? That? What is that required to look better? It sometimes needs a little bit more if it's a book cover some important thing. Sometimes you have fewer characters and what you see here, um and it might mean tracking turning sometimes check the word spacing. Sometimes there might be a character on the top of that curve that looks askew for some things. Also start till not look so great. So in some cases where you have large characters, it might actually make sense. And this is painful to take some of those characters and put him in their own text box or text frame so that you can individually rotate a specific character to make it look better. So I mean there's a lot of ways to do that you can copy and paste that character put it in a separate text box you could leave the one there and just make it no color so you don't really have to mess everything up you know I'm always looking for sort of tricks to do that but once again the main thing is to be aware be careful when you're setting type on a curve it requires extra attention okay to make the spacing correct okay and I know where we're going to do current ng after an in depth in terms of custom current ng after the next a break but what I wanted to just give you a little bit of an intro because I wanted to talk about current ing current ing current in pairs and current ing and in design it has a little intro ok? So as I've said earlier current ing is the addition or reduction of space between two characters every professional quality font comes with built in current pairs to correct the imbalances that occur between certain pairs okay so this is a screenshot from fot lab I want to show you a little bit of sort of the inside of what a font might look like so this is the g okay oh the g is seven hundred twenty nine units wide the designer determines how much space should go to the left thirty nine units and actually the space to the right is from the far this part of the character to this line here it's called a side barry okay, so this little space here is eight, eight units, the idea of thes side bearings in the spaces and the objective on the part of the type designer is to add just the right amount of space to the right and left of every single character so that when you set the type it looks as even as possible. Okay, now, even the best spaced font will still have character combinations that are uneven. Okay, so for instance, the top versions have poor spacing. The bottom versions have current pairs, so when you have, for instance, f a p a t a when you have a top heavy cap next to a lower case, it creates a space there and you might say, well, why didn't they fix the spacing? Well, they didn't fix the spacing or do what you think they might have is because the reason being that the f has spacing so that it looks good in that maybe lex to a t maybe next to a night to other cap characters, okay, but it can't everything doesn't work for everything, so a lot of those characters are very open they're often open there sometimes too tight if you look below it period's next to those top heavy characters tend to be too far from the caps again the period of space. So it looks good next to the majority of other cara workers, not the individual ones that have negative space below them. Okay, something that that a lot of us type people get annoyed at as the period followed by a close quote and having that kind of space. So a lot of us like to see that closed up. Sometimes you'll have something that's too tight, such as the lower case f followed by on an apostrophe or close quote, because again that's not made to accommodate that overhang over the f it's made to look good next to, and I ended it and other characters. So what you see on the bottom are ah, current pairs applied to these character pairs to improve them. Okay, also apostrophe s and what you see on the bottom is the same thing sometimes it's a little easier to see it in words. Okay, so w v I all that stuff looks better on the bottom. So basically, ah, good quality fuck fun is going to come with built in current pairs, that's invisible to you? You don't really have to be concerned about it unless you think it doesn't look in which case you might be using. A crappy font to free fund you know something like that people don't know this is really technical stuff I mean I used to sit and do I mean I got to love it I would space fonts and I would current fonso all afternoon and I didn't even have to do a lot of thinking it became automatic but it's a skill that takes a lot of time to learn to see what two d'oh okay, so um now that you know the concept of what turning isn't current pears are in a fun uh I just wanted to go through the three options um the three current options in in design okay and I'll show you where they are in a second with screenshot but there is the metric setting which is the default there's optical and if you said something to zero you can do that as well this is where they're located so it's the character tab and if you click you see that where it says metrics which is the default if you click on the little triangle to the right you see there's optical above it and everybody wants to know what optical most people don't set it to zero but technically if you said it to the zero you're going to see the fun without any current pears okay, so that's not too useful so what's the difference between metrics and optical metrics which is the default uses the fonts built in current pairs that are determined by the typeface designer now one has to assume with equality font that typeface designer knows best and that most fonts if they're a good quality font should have adequate on good looking current pears. Okay, so this is the best setting in most cases when you're using a font with adequate current tables, we call it a tables well, it just mean table is a collection of pears, okay, optical a lot of confusion about this because I've had people tell me that they were told they should change everything toe optical okay, the optical setting and in design kern ing means that the program basically tosses out the inn from not not literally it disregards the current pairs that came with the font and uses an algorithm of its own to determine what it thinks. The spacing and encouraging of all the characters should be so it's basically saying we don't care what the font says, we're going to disregard that and doing algorithm of the negative spaces and do our own thing, okay, so I mean that's, occasionally useful, but you never want to use that as your base setting because what I have to assume you're using good quality fonts and the designer's eye is always going to a good type designers I is always going to be preferable to the software making that decision okay, so if you happen to have a font that doesn't have good current pairs you don't like how it looks or it's uneven or something like that and it's text you can play around with that you can try it, okay but it's it's more useful when you use it and and specific instances when you're combining different fonts or different sizes of the same fun because there are no kern pairs applied when you change sizes or fonts so for instance take this word washington on the upper left this is all the same font but I changed the size of the w so what happens? It has no current pair so because of all the negative space below the w there's a big open space so yes, you can use kern ing and do that but if you wanted a short cut it's just this is just a demonstration. All I did was highlight the w in the a and I change the current ng from metrics to optical and that's what it did, it might not be perfect. I might want it a little tighter, but what you see below it of the w and a is the current ing setting and in design changed from metrics to optical the reason um I have that actually I might have changed the whole word but the reason I have that red um arrow is that I wouldn't change the whole word really because I liked the spacing that optic that metal like the natural spacing and if I change the whole word toe optical the g and the tea opened up slightly a little bit which I didn't like so that's why in the real world if I were using that method I would only highlight the w in the a okay now that something similar but more extreme on the right because you have a totally different type face so there's no current pairs between different typefaces so ah the w in the a for that same word have a lot of space if I highlight the w and the ate together and I change the current ing from uh metrics to optical it's going to make it look better okay well I don't usually use it for places like this I'll tell you where I use it sometimes there's a lot of fonts where I don't like the period followed by the close quote it's really open okay so rather than go through everything and remember how much I current it the first thing I will do is highlight the period and the close quote and change from metrics toe optical a lot of time and it just it just enough so that looks good okay but here's one other this is like this is a really good shortcut if you're using a font that has on lee has a lot of lining figures lining tabular lining figures like what you see on the top which means the one is really open you might have a font that's not open type it might be a type one or true type and it doesn't have nicely space it just has thes tabular spaced fund a letters and numbers that go vertically well you have to do is highlight them all and change the setting from metrics to optical a lot of times that improves it enough that you don't have to think oh no I got occurred all the ones and do all this work so I've sort of discovered that this is a helpful way to do this okay? Ah the zero setting doesn't asai said it's not useful really for most designers if you said it to zero it mate means that that pair is going to have no current okay, so these are all based settings meaning if you said something to metrics are optical you can still go in and change current ing individually okay so I think what we're going to do now we've got we've got some time I'm going to do a quick indesign demo and then we're going to go teo what makes a good typeface before we go to a break so and this is just um one pretty quick demo here but I just think it's cool to watch to see ok so we haven't up there so let's say we make this little bigger so here's guilt that guilt since condensed okay, so and I did it it can't just put a cursory and because this is not a paragraph attributes this character attributes so I'm going to highlight everything or I suppose I could also this is a separate text box so I could just select the text box so no actually along its a paragraph let's clean up this desk top first okay, so it is a paragraph attributes because we're going to justification if you remember okay, so we're going to open this okay and so here are the base said I'll put it up here okay, so as you can see, I didn't fake this this is this is the real setting of what this is I'm gonna click preview first thing I'm going to do is let's go to a t watch the type okay so that's eighty what if I wanted to go even less here's where I said that this number I can put in seventy it's not going to accept anything that's not in between those two numbers so if I go seventy it invalid okay so it looks like a math formula but all I have to do is change it doesn't matter if I changes to twenty I can change it to fifty it's not going to affect anything except it's going to allow me to set this to so it's, a sixty, which is ultimately what I had, and I click. Okay, all right, so it's not hard to do. You just have to remember it's. Not something you're going toe logically find, unless you remember, because you think it's justification and it's, not it's, not what we're working with here. So here's the key desired ward spacing in the justification panel in paragraph.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Creating Type Solutions.mp4
Ilene Strizver - Typographic Checklist.pdf
Ilene Strizver - Type Rules - Chapter 2 and Glossary.pdf

bonus material with Purchase

Ilene Strizver - Chester - What Makes a Good TypeFace.pdf
Ilene Strizver - Oldrichium - What Makes a Good TypeFace.pdf.pdf
Ilene Strizver - Typequiz.pdf
Ilene Strizver - Typography - Fine Tuning and Finessing Syllabus.pdf

Ratings and Reviews

a Creativelive Student

Ilene's courses on Typography are jam-packed with excellent information that will elevate the quality of your work in print. She knows what';s current, but also what's important in long-time standards, and why. Just an incredible amount of information! you will enjoy watching, but you will want to purchase because of the sheer amount of useful content.

Nelson Mueller

Wonderful course! I enjoyed it from the beginning until the end, just like the fundamentals course. I wish there was even more of her. Hopefully in the future.


I bought this and the intro class and love them both! I had no idea fonts, typefaces and typesetting could be so interesting and detailed. Ilene is a clear and informative teacher. I love that she teaches why things are done, not simply "do this". I learn faster and remember better with her style of instruction.

Student Work