Read One Way, Kern the Other!

This isn't an elaborate tip, but I wanted to highlight a technique that I've used to help me kern type more effectively. I tend to kern type backward from the reading direction. But this seems counter-intuitive, doesn't it? Exactly.

In most of the Germanic and Romance languages we learn to read left-to-right. As this is the ages old standard, we never question this as a part of our learning and it becomes natural to take in information this way. As this is the direction we read, as we kern and shape the type-spacing of our information design, we are still taking in the information and our brains are analyzing the words we see—even if we are not reading them, per se.

So how do you stop yourself from reading words when it is in our intuitive nature to take in that information? Change the direction of which you are working as to not trigger the brain to read. This almost objectifies your kerning so that you are not "reading" the same direction you are working. I stumbled upon this by accident one day in a rush like the way it felt in my head, so have stuck to doing it whenever possible. By kerning type backward you tend to focus more on good visual spacing rather than understandability of the actual wording. A small detail, but it's helped me a lot.

Try it out and let me know what you think.

Steve G.