Using kerning to increase the visual appeal of the font

Kerning is a process that is used to specify the space between two adjacent glyphs manually. This is used to achieve good typographical quality for your font. In Indic scripts, kerning is usually used to adjust the space between characters and matras with vertical stems , like akaars, ikaars, iikaars, etc. The image below illustrates the difference kerning can bring about in the visual appearance of a font.

Figure A.1. Difference between an unkerned font and its kerned counterpart

Difference between an unkerned font and its kerned counterpart

Differences in on-screen rendering of an unkerned font and its kerned counterpart

Fontforge lets you kern very easily, using the Metrics View window. To adjust the space between, say, "ga" and "iikaar", in the Font View, control-click on ka, and then on iikaar (sequence is very important here), and then click on Window->New Metrics Window . A window will pop up, showing the selected glyphs placed one after the other.

Figure A.2. Metrics Window in Fontforge

Metrics Window in Fontforge

Modifying the space between two glyphs in the metrics window of Fontforge

Click on the thin green line between the two glyphs and drag it around until you get the desired space between the two glyphs. Repeat this process for all the other glyphs that you want to kern


If you are planning to kern a lot of glyphs, Fontforge has a feature that lets you group glyphs into classes, so that you take care of a number of similar glyphs at a time. Take a look into the manual for that.