Andrew Kutchera
Senior Lecturer of Design

Typography / Kerning Exercise

Lesson Plan Published 8/10/14 Last updated on 5/16/18

After I explain the syllabus in the first class period, I have students dive right into a kerning exercise. While the Adobe Software in general and type designs in particular have become so much better over the years, it seems that new students don't really see the micro adjustments that are necessary (or possible) with kerning. So, I have them kern one word using Trajan – by hand! After they layout their letters on their desk, they glue their results in the middle of a horizontal sheet of paper. Depending on the confidence of the student, the hand's on part of this exercise can take any where from 20 minutes to 45 minutes. After evaluating their results, they move to the computer and they choose a different word to kern using Illustrator. They are able to see and kern much better after working by-hand first.

After we discuss their digital results, I like to show this video (see below) which discusses the origin and current meaning of Trajan (movies). While the video seems light, it's the perfect transition into a more serious discussion about the way that the meaning of typefaces can change over time.

  • Acrobat

    The complete PDF solution for working anywhere. (includes desktop, web, and mobile access)

  • Illustrator

    Create beautiful vector art and illustrations.

  • InDesign

    Craft elegant layouts at your desk or on the go.

Age Levels
1-2 Hours

Printed copy of Trajan / glue sticks / scissors / rulers / computers with Illustrator / patience

CC License
5 / 5 • 3 Ratings

Resources (1)

or Join for free to access materials
File Size

Comments (2)

Write a reply...
or Join for free to view all comments and participate in the discussion.

Judy Durkin

Posted on 10/2/14 6:51:34 AM Permalink

What a tremendous idea to have them Kern by Hand! And the movie is hysterical.

I going to do both activities

Judy Durkin

Posted on 9/26/14 8:02:03 AM Permalink

Very very nice!