What Is Kerning, and Why Does It Matter for Your Website?

Camryn Rabideau / July 19, 2019

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If you’re learning about typography and how to choose fonts for your website, you’ll probably encounter the term “kerning.” What is kerning? This is a key concept that can drastically impact the way your website looks, so it’s important to understand kerning best practices as you build an online presence for your business, blog, or other endeavor.

What is kerning, exactly?

Kerning is the amount of space between characters of any given font. For the sake of readability, it’s important that letters don’t overlap, but they also shouldn’t be too far apart, since this can look awkward and be confusing for readers.

Most fonts have a default kerning, and though they typically look fine as-is, some letter combinations might be too close or too far apart. In these cases, it’s important to adjust the kerning to improve legibility and appearance. Overall, the goal should be for letters to look equally spaced — even if they aren’t.

Does kerning matter on websites?

It’s no secret that internet users prefer beautifully designed websites. Surveys have found that 38 percent of people will actually stop engaging with a website if they think the design or content is unattractive, according to HubSpot. As such, it’s important to take the steps necessary to ensure that your website is visually appealing — and kerning can greatly affect that.

Standard fonts usually look fine without kerning adjustments, but if you choose an unconventional or decorative font on your website, you’ll want to ensure the kerning is easy to read — be sure to check its appearance on mobile devices as well. In particular, loopy script fonts often need adjusting, since certain letter combinations may overlap, which can look messy and unprofessional.

Editing fonts on WordPress.com

If you host your website on WordPress.com, you shouldn’t have to worry too much about kerning, since fonts are automatically designed to look their best. Themes on WordPress.com come with preset fonts that are carefully chosen to make your site look polished and professional. If needed, you can also use your site’s Customizer to change the font of both your headings and body text to better suit your brand.

However, if something looks off and you want to tweak the appearance of a font, you can use custom CSS to adjust the spacing between letters. Note that CSS editing is only available to Premium, Business, and eCommerce plan owners.

Luckily, when you host your site on WordPress.com, you don’t have to worry about these more technical aspects of typography. Instead, you can focus on creating quality content that will keep your audience engaged and coming back for more.

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