Spacing of Letters (Typography on Maps) : Kerning, Tracking, & Leading (Especially for GATE-Geospatial 2022)

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By enlarging the increments between each letter of a word, the word in turn, becomes more pronounced. In the case for a long arc feature, to add more emphasis on the label, the letters would need to be extended or stretched.

In some cases, the letters would have to be condensed to give a more proportional label for a feature. There are three types of spacing:

This Figure Shows Three Types of Spacing
This Figure Shows Anatomy of Typography


Kerning refers the action of adjusting the amount of space between the letters of type in a word, whether printed or on-screen. Inter-letter spacing may be increased or decreased to achieve the desired visual effect. If your letters are too far apart, the word is no longer a word at all. If the letters are too close, you cannot tell what the letters are.

This Image Shows Kerning Space


Tracking is a similar but slightly different technique than Kerning. It is more generalized. Tracking involves changing the spacing between the letters equally within an entire word or range of characters. After deciding the best spacing between two letters of a word using kerning, tracking can be used to get the entire word to the right spacing.

This Figure Shows Examples of Tracking


Leading is the space between lines in a multi-line textual element. The name derives from traditional type setting where extra metal was added between lines of text.

For example, a 10-point font would have 2 points of leading between lines. Leading is also known by the term Line Spacing depending on the word processing software being used however they both mean the spacing between lines of text.

This Figure Shows Examples of Leading

Looser leading spreads text out to fill a page and makes the document easier to read. Leading can also be negative, in which case the lines of text are so close they overlap or touch. It is best to specify an amount of space that is large enough to fit the largest character or graphic in the line and then if items appear cut off, increase the amount of spacing.

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