Fix the kerning settings in Microsoft Office

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Here’s how to use the font kerning settings in Microsoft Office, Word and PowerPoint and fix a default setting.

See our short guide to kerning to understand the settings and artistry behind kerning.

Kerning letters makes a difference as the letters get larger so the setting is more important for headings and titles in Word and PowerPoint.

Windows and Mac defaults are wrong

Kerning is available in Word and Powerpoint, Office for Windows and Mac.

But Microsoft has made a strange choice by NOT using kerning on the default heading fonts, which is where kerning would be useful.  Headings are usually larger text and that’s when kerning starts fixing strange letter positioning.

Maybe Redmond decided that kerning doesn’t make enough difference with the default ‘Heading n’ styles?  That’s true, however users adjust those styles to larger fonts often unware that kerning would give a better result.

Here’s common Arial font without and with kerning.

Font | Advanced

To setup kerning you need the Advanced Font settings. Click on the little arrow on the bottom right of the Home | Font ribbon section.

In Office for Mac, go to the menu Format | Font or Command + D  to open the Font dialog.

In Office, the kerning setting is applied for font sizes higher than a size you specify. At Font | Advanced  | Kerning for fonts … points and above.

This type of setting is very useful because you can ‘set and forget’. It will work when the font size requires it, but you don’t have to worry about Office kerning if you switch to a smaller size.

When to use kerning?

When to use kerning and what size to start using kerning isn’t a simple question.

It partly depends on the font.  Fonts have different needs for kerning and older TrueType fonts might be less able to kern properly compared to OpenType fonts.

Size of the font also matters.  Smaller/body text doesn’t need kerning, it’s only as the size increases.

The beauty of the ‘Kerning for fonts …. Points and above’ is that you can set a lower limit for kerning then forget about it.

If you want a very broad or rough ‘rule of thumb’, set kerning for 20 points and above.

Styles

The same setting is available for any style under Modify Style | Format | Font | Advanced.

Kerning text simply explained for Word and Powerpoint

2001 movie design: using in Office, Word or PowerPoint
2001: A Space Odyssey and font kerning
2001 A Space Odyssey – in Word and PowerPoint

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