38 Replies Latest reply: Jun 10, 2014 2:52 AM by Danny Whitehead. RSS

    Kerning around 1 is NEVER right!

    Amikoe Community Member

      Using InDesign CS6:

      This has been going on for YEARS... Using the best, most traditional fonts (and as a designer I have thousands), when there's a "1" in a number (see below) and especially when that number appears in large type (like a header), or even on a business card — I find myself CONSTANTLY correcting the kerning before and after that "1"....  I'm wondering, how come?... And is there a script that can correct this globally?

      Screen Shot 2014-05-08 at 9.15.53 PM.jpg

       

      Thanks.

        • 1. Re: Kerning around 1 is NEVER right!
          Ellis home Community Member

          Have you tried Open Type/Proportional Lining to see if that helps you. But it could have unintended consequences with your overall layout.You could applied it globally to "1"s using Find/Change GREP.

          • 2. Re: Kerning around 1 is NEVER right!
            Peter Spier ACP/MVPs

            You can use GREP in find/change or as a GREP style to adjust the tracking (not the kerning), on all characters or the characters of your choice that are followed by a 1, and on the 1 when followed by the characters of your choice.

            • 3. Re: Kerning around 1 is NEVER right!
              [Jongware] MVP

              Amikoe wrote:

               

              This has been going on for YEARS... Using the best, most traditional fonts (and as a designer I have thousands), when there's a "1" in a number (see below) and especially when that number appears in large type (like a header), or even on a business card — I find myself CONSTANTLY correcting the kerning before and after that "1"....  I'm wondering, how come?...

               

              Um, just to make sure we understand this correctly. You have been using "the best fonts" for years on end and never noticed that in general all digits are designed to be of equal width? There are very few "best, most traditional fonts" that apply kerning to digits by default; Univers LT, for example. As such, I need to disable kerning for digits (I need tabular lining digits). Very annoying.

               

              As Ellis says above, modern (OpenType) versions of fonts may have proportional as well as tabular digits. Perhaps you should look in to refreshing your font set.

              • 4. Re: Re: Kerning around 1 is NEVER right!
                Amikoe Community Member

                The screen shot below is of a test using some of what I call "the best fonts" (unlike most of those free fonts one can find all over the Net) and they're ALL OT FONT, with their respective names showing under.

                Even Univers LT, at the bottom (I prefer using bold/black just to show the problem better).

                 

                Unlike ANY other character in the alphabet, including "i" or "l" -- only the number "1" has this weird/bad/nonexistent kerning, which is what makes me wonder....

                 

                OK, as to GREP: Not being a big ID expert, where do I go from here?  I need some step-by-step instructions....

                 

                Thanks!

                 

                Screen Shot 2014-05-09 at 10.29.46 AM.jpg

                • 5. Re: Re: Re: Kerning around 1 is NEVER right!
                  Ellis home Community Member

                  If you want to experiment with Open Type/Proportional Lining

                  Edit/Find/Change/GRAPE

                  Find what: 1

                  Change format/OpenType Features/Figure Styling/Proportional Lining

                  • 6. Re: Re: Re: Kerning around 1 is NEVER right!
                    Amikoe Community Member

                    OK, but what's next, after choosing Proportional Lining in the "Find Format"? ... Need you to hold my hand, walk me thru it...

                     

                    ...Thanks...

                    • 7. Re: Re: Re: Kerning around 1 is NEVER right!
                      Peter Spier ACP/MVPs

                      Amikoe wrote:

                       

                      The screen shot below is of a test using some of what I call "the best fonts" (unlike most of those free fonts one can find all over the Net) and they're ALL OT FONT, with their respective names showing under.

                      Even Univers LT, at the bottom (I prefer using bold/black just to show the problem better).

                      Jonware already mentioned that Univers lacks proportional figures. The Arno Pro has them, however, though they are not enabled by default. The ITC Garamond and Helvetica Neue also lack them, and I suspect it's only the Arno Pro in your selection that does.

                      • 8. Re: Re: Re: Kerning around 1 is NEVER right!
                        Amikoe Community Member

                        OK, so where do I go from here?...

                        • 9. Re: Kerning around 1 is NEVER right!
                          Ellis home Community Member

                          You click Find and then Change to do one at a time. If you want to change all at once you click Change All

                          Plining.JPG

                          • 10. Re: Re: Re: Kerning around 1 is NEVER right!
                            Peter Spier ACP/MVPs

                            You can use find/change, but it would be a lot simpler to just fix it in the style definitions...

                            • 11. Re: Re: Re: Kerning around 1 is NEVER right!
                              Amikoe Community Member

                              OK, so I used Ellis' instructions on the document I created that I show above, and the message was "14 replacements made" (since there are 14 "1" characters in that ID document) but ONLY THE TRAJAN PRO line showed a movement to the left, none of the others, no matter how many times I checked it using undo and redo...

                               

                              As to Peter's idea, sorry, not sure how to fix it in the style definitions...

                              • 12. Re: Kerning around 1 is NEVER right!
                                Ellis home Community Member

                                It seems to work just with some using the global find/change. Don't know why. I was able to change it but selecting the whole line and then Type/Character/Open Type/Proportional Lining

                                Arno Pro Bold - Copy.JPG

                                • 13. Re: Re: Re: Kerning around 1 is NEVER right!
                                  Amikoe Community Member

                                  Yours seem working, mine doesn't... Only the Trajan Pro Bold showed movement....

                                  • 14. Re: Kerning around 1 is NEVER right!
                                    Peter Spier ACP/MVPs

                                    First, fonts that don't have Proportional Lining figures built in won't change.

                                     

                                    Second, it's probably not enough to set just the 1 to use that figure style. Use it for ALL digits. The correct GREP expression would be to search for \d+

                                     

                                    Third, the correct way to handle this is really in the paragraph style definition, like this:

                                    Proportional figures.png

                                     

                                    As mentioned, not all fonts will have proprtional figures, and some will have Old Style Figures rather than lining figures, and some will have both. Many typographers prefer old style figures for numbers in body text and lining figures in tables (where you really want Tabular figures that all take up the same width) and headings. OSF have descenders and lining figures all sit on the baseline.

                                    • 15. Re: Re: Re: Kerning around 1 is NEVER right!
                                      Amikoe Community Member

                                      So I tried your idea using \d+ and only these 2 font lines showed to be affected and moved, Arno Pro and, again, Trajan Pro (maybe that's why they're called "Pro"?...), and actually EVERYTHING moved and the spaces became more equal VISUALLY.

                                       

                                      I think I'm gonna give up on this.... If an OT font like Helvetica doesn't have proportional figures (so it seems), I don't see much hope to go thru a global fix, I'll have to manually take care of that one 1....

                                      • 16. Re: Re: Re: Kerning around 1 is NEVER right!
                                        Peter Spier ACP/MVPs

                                        Amikoe wrote:

                                         

                                        So I tried your idea using \d+ and only these 2 font lines showed to be affected and moved, Arno Pro and, again, Trajan Pro (maybe that's why they're called "Pro"?...), and actually EVERYTHING moved and the spaces became more equal VISUALLY.

                                         

                                        Wasn't that what you really wanted? Proper kerning for ALL pairs of numbers. Fixing only the 1 still leaves minor errors in spacing with the other numbers, it's just less noticeable with wider glyphs.

                                         

                                        I think I'm gonna give up on this.... If an OT font like Helvetica doesn't have proportional figures (so it seems), I don't see much hope to go thru a global fix, I'll have to manually take care of that one 1....

                                        Not all Pro fonts have proportional figures...

                                         

                                        As I said earlier, you can create GREP styles that will adjust the tracking for a character before a 1, and for the 1 before another character, so that it will be automatic, but it probably will take a bit of trial and error to find the correct amounts of tracking to apply, and it's unlikely a single value will work for all cases. I was asked to fix this very same problem for a set of serial numbers last week that used a font with terrible kerning, even in the alphabetic characters and of course no proportional figures. I ended up with, I believe, 7 different GREP styles to handle the limited cases in that file. You might need more or less, depending on if numbers mix with alphabetical glyphs.

                                        • 17. Re: Re: Re: Kerning around 1 is NEVER right!
                                          Amikoe Community Member

                                          Peter, yes, that's what I wanted BUT as I noted, it shows to be affecting only 2 fonts out of the 7 on my test page.... If a BASIC font like Helvetica (which I also adore and use a lot), or Garamond, also popular here, if such basic fonts don't have proportional figures — than I don't see much logic in using any global change functions, nor creating the series of GREP for the purpose...

                                           

                                          Thanks for all the efforts, though!

                                          • 18. Re: Re: Re: Kerning around 1 is NEVER right!
                                            Peter Spier ACP/MVPs

                                            I think you are missing the point here.

                                             

                                            IF you use fonts on a regular basis that do not have the proportional figures, AND you want nicer spacing, then it is well worth your time to create sample text to find the optimal tracking values to add to characters before a 1 and to the 1 itself to close the gap between it an a following glyph. You might spend an hour or so on the first font, but it may turn out the values will work for more than one font.

                                             

                                            Once you've got a set of values you can set up GREP character styles to apply the tracking, then GREP styles to apply the character styles automatically to any text that carries the paragraph style that includes the GREP style. You can load theses styles into as many documents as you like.

                                             

                                            The basic technique is to find a character followed by 1 using a positive look ahead (in my case, last week, I set up a class of characters that needed the same tracking value so I could apply the same thing to multiple combinations with a single GREP style), and to find 1 followed by a character where the spacing needs to tighten, again using a positive look ahead and a class of characters.

                                            • 19. Re: Re: Re: Kerning around 1 is NEVER right!
                                              Amikoe Community Member

                                              Hi, Peter.... I only now found some time, and decided to follow up on your advice regarding the kerning around 1 issue.... I did some testing and came to the conclusion that if I can use ONE measurement to place both before and after the "1" character, it is  -75  which works in general, maybe not perfect — but a LOT better than leaving it as is.

                                               

                                              My question is WHAT'S NEXT?...  I simply don't know what to do with this information, how to create this GREP...

                                               

                                              ...Can you please help?

                                               

                                              THANKS.....

                                              • 20. Re: Re: Re: Kerning around 1 is NEVER right!
                                                Amikoe Community Member

                                                See my test... All these have  -75 before and after the "1" and the only pair it won't work well is "11" but that I can correct manually when needed...

                                                Screen Shot 2014-06-06 at 4.23.17 PM.jpg

                                                • 21. Re: Re: Re: Kerning around 1 is NEVER right!
                                                  Peter Spier ACP/MVPs

                                                  If you want to apply only one value, you can use \d(?=1)|1(?=\d) to find all the 1s and add the tracking value to either side, but this is still going to leave too much space I think between a pair of 1s to make you happy.

                                                  • 22. Re: Re: Re: Kerning around 1 is NEVER right!
                                                    Amikoe Community Member

                                                    I'll worry about the 11 when I bump into them... But as for the rest of the pair, \d(?=1)|1(?=\d) finds me all the number before 1 and the 1 itself. Now, where do I go from here? Under Character Format I can see changing the TRACKING values, but not KERNING....

                                                    • 23. Re: Re: Re: Kerning around 1 is NEVER right!
                                                      Peter Spier ACP/MVPs

                                                      That's correct. As I said earlier, you do this with tracking, not kerning, because you cannot get to the kerning values this way.

                                                      • 24. Re: Re: Re: Kerning around 1 is NEVER right!
                                                        Amikoe Community Member

                                                        Ahhh.... OK. However it does it, it does the job, see below... I will create another GERP for 11...

                                                         

                                                        Thanks, Peter...

                                                         

                                                        Screen Shot 2014-06-06 at 4.57.17 PM.jpg

                                                        • 25. Re: Re: Re: Kerning around 1 is NEVER right!
                                                          Amikoe Community Member

                                                          How do I create a similar GERP (?) for  "74" which is also a bad pair with too much space in between?....

                                                          • 27. Re: Re: Re: Kerning around 1 is NEVER right!
                                                            Amikoe Community Member

                                                            Bingo! Thanks, Peter.

                                                            • 28. Re: Re: Re: Kerning around 1 is NEVER right!
                                                              Amikoe Community Member

                                                              OK, since we're into it, our area code ends with a 7, and adding a period or a hyphen after it create a big, ugly gap which I constantly keep correcting... To apply what you suggested above, 7(?=4) -- I created a new GREP  7(?=-)  that solved well the 7- gap, but for 7. a 7(?=.)  does not work... What should I put there?

                                                              • 31. Re: Re: Re: Kerning around 1 is NEVER right!
                                                                Amikoe Community Member

                                                                Last one (but not a promise): How can I combine a few of those above GREPs?

                                                                • 32. Re: Re: Re: Kerning around 1 is NEVER right!
                                                                  Peter Spier ACP/MVPs

                                                                  If you are applying the same tracking to all of them, you can use the | (pipes symbol) between them as an "or" as we did in the very first case.

                                                                   

                                                                  It's probably time for you to think about spending $10 on Peter Kahrel's GREP primer: GREP in InDesign - O'Reilly Media

                                                                  • 33. Re: Re: Re: Kerning around 1 is NEVER right!
                                                                    Amikoe Community Member

                                                                    At least I know I can combine them with a "|" in between....

                                                                    Thanks, Peter. Have a nice weekend!

                                                                    • 34. Re: Kerning around 1 is NEVER right!
                                                                      Danny Whitehead. Community Member

                                                                      I can't remember exactly why the vast majority of digital fonts, since the 80s, have had tabular figures, but living and working in the 0161 area code, it's been a bugbear all my working life.

                                                                       

                                                                      For fonts without proportional figures, you can make a Character Style that specifies Optical Kerning, and use that in a GREP style that applies to all figures.

                                                                      • 35. Re: Kerning around 1 is NEVER right!
                                                                        Amikoe Community Member

                                                                        Hah!.... Why did I ignore the "Optical" kerning?!?!  I'm wondering.... I don't see a reason to create a style or GREP, I can simply select the numbers and use Optical Kerning... Simple.... Or am I missing something here?...

                                                                        • 36. Re: Kerning around 1 is NEVER right!
                                                                          Peter Spier ACP/MVPs

                                                                          What you are missing is that optical kerning will open some pairs, too. Again, since you are not using highly specialized values matched to particular pairs, it might be good enough. How well it works may be somewhat font-dependent, too.

                                                                          • 37. Re: Kerning around 1 is NEVER right!
                                                                            Amikoe Community Member

                                                                            OK, well, I have the GREP I created, and optical kerning as an added value... Good enough for me on a regular basis, especially when those numbers appear in the info section at the bottom of ads and such. When it comes to headlines, they may need some more tweaking.

                                                                            • 38. Re: Kerning around 1 is NEVER right!
                                                                              Danny Whitehead. Community Member

                                                                              I don't see a reason to create a style or GREP, I can simply select the numbers and use Optical Kerning... Simple.... Or am I missing something here?...

                                                                              Same reason we use Styles in general. Consistency and time-saving. How much time you save depends on how much text you have to manually format. Personally, almost all my text is formatted using Styles.