Awards & Engraving

December '16

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A&E DECEMBER 2016 • 73 Once the reader is interested, the focus shifts to content. In order for the reader to absorb that content, fonts that were designed for readability do a much better job because they are not trying to call attention to themselves and they mini- mize distraction, allowing the message to be absorbed. The two main classes of more readable fonts are those with the little feet on the ends of the strokes (serif fonts) and those without those feet (sans serifs). Which of these two classes of fonts provides greater readability is a matter of debate with no clear winner in sight. But there is a subtle difference in how they both express themselves. Similar subtle differences also exist between the many fonts in each of the two main categories of readable fonts (serif and sans serif). These readable fonts are all great for their readability, but they do each have their own personality. Because those traits are subtle, not overt like the more expressive fonts, it takes a little more time and experience to get to know them and sense their unique characteristics. Even though there are a lot of readable fonts to choose from, designers often get attached to a small handful of them and make them work for the specific occasion by subtle adjustments to size, spacing, color, etc. (fig 5) WORDS AND SPACING As if designing a font weren't already like climbing the Himalayas, the charac- ters are then subjected to a process called metrics wherein it is decided how much space to allocate to either side of the letter so that it will work with every other letter in that font. For the most part, that pro- cess provides us with pretty serviceable paragraph text. Whenever the text stands alone, however, as in a headline, the results are not as reliable. When we select a paragraph and open the Paragraph tab of the Text dia- logue box or docker, we can adjust the amount of space between all letters and words by selecting them and increasing or decreasing the amounts in the Character or Word boxes. This universal adjustment is called Tracking. Too much increase or decrease in spacing can interfere with read- ability, but subtler increases or decreases sometimes enhance the appearance of that paragraph and increase readability. (fig 6) In most cases, headline text does need some adjustment both in Tracking and in individual space adjustments between two letters. In the Character Tab of the text dialogue box or docker, there is a Range Kerning option, which will increase or decrease the space between two letters. Depending on the shapes of two con- secutive letters, there may be a need to increase or decrease that amount so the spacing looks more even. The goal is for the word to appear whole and unbroken and in keeping with other words, if any, in the headline. There is a significant dif- ference between a well kerned headline and one fresh out of the box that hasn't been worked over. This applies double if the headline is set all in uppercase letters. Those generally need a lot of kerning and can often tolerate a lot of tracking. (fig 7) When using the Artistic Text tool, there is also a manual way to kern a headline using the Shape tool. Using that tool, select the text object and empty nodes will appear just below each character and to the left. Clicking on one or shift clicking on several nodes and dragging will move the selected character(s) to the right or left. Be sure to hold down on the Ctrl key to constrain the movement to horizontal only. If not, the vertical alignment of the word will get messed up. Because of that possibility, I prefer making these adjust- ments by the numbers. (fig 8) In the next issue, we'll look at how to work with lines, paragraphs and pages. Jim Sadler is a former university professor of computer graphics and a freelance designer. He is currently offering his services as a con- sultant within the industry. He brings together his expertise in design, computer graphics and industry-related technologies with his ability to communicate through teaching, technical assistance and, of course, through writing for A&E Magazine. Jim can be reached by e-mail at His web address is Graphic Design Range Kerning of space 10 ATTORNEY ATTORNEY select Shape tool Figure 7 Figure 8 A&E

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