“How do I define the line spacing in my text?” Well, the first response would typically aim at your choice of type and the size it is used in. However, the space between the words is not to be underestimated and ultimately the width of your column is an eminent factor. You easily end up with four parameters that are all inseparably interlinked with one another, a concept that has been called the “magic square of typography.” Let’s take a look at the formula of the page and we’ll notice that this concept can easily be extended to a pentagon or hexagon and beyond.
In his recent article Paring down webfonts in FF Subsetter,David Sudweeks mentions WOFF. No, this is not the bark of an adorable puppy, but the abbreviation for Web Open Font Format. Developed by Mozilla® in concert with Type Supply, LettError, and other organizations, it uses a compressed version of the same table-based SFNT structure used by TrueType, OpenType, and Open Font Format, but adds metadata and private-use data structures, including predefined fields allowing foundries and vendors to provide license information if desired. Sounds as complicated to you as it did to me? I will to try to explain what this all means.
Two typographic terms that are frequently confused with each other are kerning and tracking. This is understandable – they both mean adding or subtracting space between characters. Yet there is a big difference. Kerning is adding or subtracting space between two individual characters, to correct the spacing in problematic character pairs, as seen in the previous episodes Adventures in Space: Spacing and Kerning. Tracking however is the name for altering the spacing in a sequence of characters.
After finishing Adventures in Space: Spacing and Kerning I realised I still had to address two special cases before I can move on to tracking in the next episode. The first one is when type is set on a curve, because the built-in spacing and kerning only works correctly in ‘normal’ setting, which is horizontal type on a straight baseline. The second one is that kerning doesn’t work between two letters of different fonts when combining two or more typefaces in a word.
Like I explained in Adventures in Space: Spacing – the first in this series of four articles about space in typefaces – type designers have control over only half of the space at each side of any character they draw. Because the space between any two characters is created by joining two of these half spaces, the number of possible combinations is vast. It is virtually impossible to space a typeface in such a way that every single one of these countless combinations works perfectly. This is where kerning comes in, as the last resort to correct spacing issues in problematic letter combinations.