Advanced Spacing

Learn to space like a pro ;)

Franz avatar
Written by Franz
Updated over a week ago

Your goal is to define a harmonious rhythm of space between letters and words, first globally, and then by fixing inharmonious spaces.

The amount of horizontal space between two glyphs (the spacing) is defined by the sum of the spaces around each glyph (their left and right side bearing), plus an eventual correction to fix problematic cases (the kerning).

Spend a great amount of care to balance the spacing of your font, as it will not only result in a more legible typeface, but this will also prevent many kerning issues.  

The Advanced Spacing view

This view includes 3 different parts:

  • The Spacing Pad - an editable text preview at the top - where you can interactively edit horizontal metrics values for each glyph.

  • The Live Preview - an editable text preview at the bottom - to see the impact of your changes on a set of predefined texts including common spacing phrases.

  • The Table of Values - on the right - to edit all the glyphs' spacing values.

Smart Spacing, the fast track 😎

Since version 3.5, Fontself Maker lets you space your entire font in one click with the Smart Spacing. Here is what you get when you click on Smart in the tool bar:

All you need is to set the global rhythm you want for your font, defined by the spacing value to apply to straight letters like H or I. Based on this value, Fontself Maker calculates the side bearings of all glyphs, or if you want, only a subset (Uppercase, Lowercase,...) or even just the glyphs you typed in the Spacing Pad.

In seconds, you can have multiple attemps and try multiple values for different sets.

Manual Spacing 101

  1. Adjust the scale of your font if needed (with the buttons Scale)

  2. Adjust the global spacing for all glyphs (with the buttons Letter Space)

  3. Adjust the individual spacing for each glyph

A traditional approach to this task is to start looking at a couple glyphs that serve a control characters to define a rhythm with the most vertical and rounded shapes: nnnnn and ooooo for lowercase, HHHHH and OOOOO  for uppercase.

  • In Fontself Maker, scroll through the list in the Spacing Pad, and fit the space around all characters so they visually match the volume of space around nn or HH 

  • The side bearings for straight glyphs like H are usually bigger than those for curved letters like O  

There are 3 different ways to adjust spacing:

  • Click on a glyph and drag its left or right side bearings

  • Click on a glyph and press the keyboard arrows to slide it horizontally (press Shift + click on the left or right arrow to increment by 10) 

  • Edit values directly within the table

  • Once you have scrolled through the first list of glyphs, check the sample text in the live preview below to see how the edits you make impact words. 

  • You can then repeat this process for lowercase, uppercase, mixed cases, numbers & punctuation and all other glyphs in your font via the related filter buttons:

Redefining spacing 

You can adjust the spacing values of all characters at once:

  • Reset will set all left & right side bearings to the value you define

  • Mono will force all glyphs to have the same width, so all characters are evenly spaced (for monospaced fonts)

  • Smart will smartly calculate all left & right side bearing for you

  • Import  will bring all the metrics from another font file into your current typeface. More details in this article.

You should really spend as much time as you can to adjust all spacing before you start working on the last part of your font editing: kerning.

One more tip

  • To precisely adjust the width of your Space character, scroll in the Table of Values to the bottom and change the width of the last character, displayed as  ⎵  :

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