Kerning Bembo

I’m in the process of typesetting my new novel, GM, ready for publication in April (2014). I write in Quark (v9), and use the font that the book will eventually be published in. I just like the look of an actual, if rough, facsimile of the final book as I write.

For most of my adult novels, I use the Bembo. But there’s something odd about it.

My editor marked up a lot of instances where there appeared to be no space between a full stop and the capital letter of the next sentence. Even though there was. The enlarged image below doesn’t adequately convey how bad this looks at actual size – but it really is impossible to tell there’s a space there at all!

Screen Shot 2014-03-03 at 17.10.01

It turns out that Bembo is just really badly kerned.

So one additional job has been to manually set up the kerning table in Quark so that the typeset book is more readable.

Here’s how…

From the UTILITIES menu, select KERNING TABLE EDIT.

Scroll down to Bembo font (or whatever you are editing – just remember that you will need to do this for each version of the font that you have used – Plain, Bold, Italic etc).

Click EDIT.

Screen Shot 2014-03-03 at 17.10.40

You will need to set up kerning values for each pair that is causing trouble. For example, the kern between the space and capital W was particularly bad. Space-W is kerned at -26 by default, meaning the space is hardly there at all.

With experimentation, I found that -16 was about right. So set the with-steam value to -16 and click REPLACE.

Screen Shot 2014-03-03 at 17.10.47

Repeat with all values that give problems.

Then OK and SAVE.

Your work will subtly reflow, but letter spacing will be much better.

Before…

Screen Shot 2014-03-03 at 17.10.01

After…

Screen Shot 2014-03-03 at 17.11.51

A similar thing happens with the V. This shows it even better than the above example.

Screen Shot 2014-03-03 at 22.54.23

This might seem like a very small thing, but kerning matters. It’s about readability. Quark, fortunately, makes it very easy to do, so although it can be time-consuming, it is worth the effort.

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