Chapter: Formating Type

Justification, Letterspacing and Word Spacing

name of your book, your name University of Kansas, 2023

Add to the beginning or end of the book.
Designed by Your Name. Class project for Typographic Systems at the University of Kansas, 2023. The text was compiled from the following sources: Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst, Getting it Right with Type: the Do's and Don'ts of Typography by Victoria Square, Mac is Not A Typewriter by Robin Williams. This book is not to be sold to the public and to only be used by the designer for their reference and student design portfolio.

All the content below must be in your workbook. However you can organize it in any way you want. Each section can be a chapter or you can organize the content into groups and those become chapters.


01 rules check sheet
02 glossary of typographic rules

03 special characters
04 column width and hyphenation
05 hyphens and dashes  
06 quotes and apostrophes
07 kerning

08 figures and tabular tables
09 justification, letterspacing, word spacing
10 paragraph breaks

11 anatomy of type
12 typographic color
13 font classifications
14 glossary of terms (optional)

Letterspacing, Word Spacing, and Justification

︎︎︎illustrate the principles 

Letterspacing, also referred to as character spacing or tracking, involves adjusting the horizontal white space between letters in a text block. Unlike kerning, which focuses on specific letter pairs, letterspacing affects the spacing between all letter pairs.

Ordinarily, lowercase letters do not require letterspacing.

Capital letters typically appear at the beginning of words or sentences and are designed to align properly with lowercase letters. However, when capital letters are used consecutively, the spacing may appear too tight. To address this, it is advisable to add an additional 5 – 12% of letterspacing to text in all caps or small caps, especially when working with smaller font sizes.

When text is entirely in uppercase, it can become more challenging to read (note that using all caps extensively is generally discouraged, but for short titles, it can be acceptable). One technique to enhance readability is to introduce a modest amount of letter-spacing. The objective is not to be creative or make a significant impact but rather to make a subtle adjustment. This added space gives each character a bit more room, contributing to improved legibility.

While a slight increase in letter-spacing can enhance the readability of uppercase text, excessive spacing can have the opposite effect, making the text harder to read. In most cases, the primary goal is to improve text readability, so it's crucial to keep this in mind when adjusting letter-spacing values.

Word Spacing
Word spacing is an important aspect of creating inviting, easy-to-read typography. This seemingly small detail plays a key role in establishing the color, texture and readability of a typographic communication.

Over-tight word spacing causes words to appear to run into each other, making it more difficult for the reader to distinguish one word from the next. Conversely, word spacing that is too open – the more common occurrence – creates oversized blocks of white space between words, forcing the reader to read individual words rather than phrases or blocks of copy. This dramatically slows down the reading process, reducing reader comprehension and increasing the risk of distraction.

How much word spacing is the right amount? Assigning appropriate space between words is more of an optical determination than an exact science, but certain factors have a definite influence. Word spacing will be affected by the proportions of a typestyle, letter fit, and point size of the setting. A basic guideline for text is for the word spacing to approximate the character width of the lowercase ‘n’ or ‘o’. Display settings should have narrower word spacing than text designs

When you justify text, the computer forces the lines to extend to a certain length by adding or deleting space between the words, and sometimes between the letters. Some programs let you specify the minimum and maximum amounts the spacing can adjust, but the computer will override your specifications if necessary.

The greatest problem with justified text, both in terms of readability and aesthetics, is the uneven word spacing and letter spacing: some lines have extra spacing, some less. This irregularity is visually disturbing and interrupts reading. The shorter the line length in relation to the size of the type, the worse this problem becomes because there are fewer words between which to add or delete space. 

For many years, justified type reigned supreme as the way to set most text. But the trend over the past couple of decades has been to allow the natural spacing of flush left text to dominate, losing the structured look of the "block" of text and maximizing readability.

Justify text only if the line is long enough to prevent awkward and inconsistent word spacing. The only time you can safely justify text is if your type is small enough and your line is long enough, as in books where the text goes all the way across the page. If your line is shorter, as in newsletter, or if you don't have many words on the line, than as the type aligns to the margins the words space themselves to accommodate it. It usually looks awkward. You've seen newspaper columns where all text is justified, often with a word stretching all the way across the column, or a little word on either side of the column with a big gap in the middle. Gross. But that's what can happen with justified type. When you do it, the effect might not be as radical as the newspaper column, but if your lines are relatively short, you will inevitably end up with uncomfortable gaps in some lines, while other lines will be all squished together. When your work comes out of the printer, turn it upside down and squint at it. The rivers will be very easy to spot. Get rid of them. Try squinting at the example on the bottom of the previous page.

In typography, rivers, or rivers of white, are visually unattractive gaps appearing to run down a paragraph of text. They can occur with any spacing, though they are most noticeable with wide word spaces caused by either full text justification or monospaced fonts.

︎︎︎Justification Settings
Use one size, one leading, two column widths. JUSTIFIY the text. All you are changing is the Justification setting in InDesign. The goal is to find a setting that has a comfortable wordspace and letterspace.
︎︎︎Template to use for your success