Kerning in MS Word 2007

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Kerning in MS Word 2007

Postby AvatarIII » Fri Sep 28, 2012 11:29 am UTC

Basically I have been using MS word 2007 for some stuff at work recently, and I've started to notice that the kerning is really strange. the size of spaces can change quite noticeably depending on where on the page the space is. I am attaching an example of kerning where all I did was change what line the writing was on and slightly where it was on the page, there is no other difference in the text.

Does anyone know why this might be? Is it common to Word 2007?
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Re: Kerning in MS Word 2007

Postby cphite » Fri Sep 28, 2012 2:36 pm UTC

AvatarIII wrote:Basically I have been using MS word 2007 for some stuff at work recently, and I've started to notice that the kerning is really strange. the size of spaces can change quite noticeably depending on where on the page the space is. I am attaching an example of kerning where all I did was change what line the writing was on and slightly where it was on the page, there is no other difference in the text.

Does anyone know why this might be? Is it common to Word 2007?


I've seen this too... I think it's because of the way Word tries to guesstimate how to fit the entire row across the page. What I've found to work sometimes is to turn Justify on and off again (or off and on again if you're using it) and it seems to recalculate. YMMV.
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Re: Kerning in MS Word 2007

Postby WanderingLinguist » Fri Sep 28, 2012 4:46 pm UTC

It's not the kerning that's off. The kerning is consistent between the letter pairs in both lines. It's the word spacing that's off. I suspect this is just a visual artifact. If you print, it will probably come out the same. Basically, in Windows text is shifted so that the character strokes fall directly on the pixel grid (integer positions), especially for small sizes. This means there are rounding errors that vary with resolution. (Most other modern platforms like, for example, MacOS, go for accuracy in the character shape even if it means the edges blur slightly due to antialiasing because they are not perfectly grid-aligned).

Anyway the Windows approach doesn't work when you are in a WYSIWYG situation because the rounding errors would add up and cause things to wrap differently depending on how far you were zoomed in. As a result, Windows programs like Microsoft Word used lay things out according to the un-rounded character positions (same regardless of scaling) but then individually align characters to the pixel grids so they appear clearer. The problem was that the inter-character spacing would be odd within a word (one extra pixel added or removed here and there) which made it look ugly and hurt readability. So the more recent approach (since the late 90's, I believe) has been to calculate character positions based on the high-resolution print device, but align each word as a whole to the pixel grid. This means that depending on how that rounding happens, words can end up being longer or shorter by several pixels (in the case of your example, the margin of error is 2~3 pixels). However, that rounding error is compensated for at the next word position, so the overall positioning comes out the same, and word wrapping and page breaks don't change.

So, basically, if you print it, you won't see a difference. But on the screen, you will, and it might change as you zoom or scroll, even. But it will approximate (on average) the print position.
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Re: Kerning in MS Word 2007

Postby AvatarIII » Mon Oct 01, 2012 9:00 am UTC

WanderingLinguist wrote:It's not the kerning that's off. The kerning is consistent between the letter pairs in both lines. It's the word spacing that's off. I suspect this is just a visual artifact. If you print, it will probably come out the same. Basically, in Windows text is shifted so that the character strokes fall directly on the pixel grid (integer positions), especially for small sizes. This means there are rounding errors that vary with resolution. (Most other modern platforms like, for example, MacOS, go for accuracy in the character shape even if it means the edges blur slightly due to antialiasing because they are not perfectly grid-aligned).

Anyway the Windows approach doesn't work when you are in a WYSIWYG situation because the rounding errors would add up and cause things to wrap differently depending on how far you were zoomed in. As a result, Windows programs like Microsoft Word used lay things out according to the un-rounded character positions (same regardless of scaling) but then individually align characters to the pixel grids so they appear clearer. The problem was that the inter-character spacing would be odd within a word (one extra pixel added or removed here and there) which made it look ugly and hurt readability. So the more recent approach (since the late 90's, I believe) has been to calculate character positions based on the high-resolution print device, but align each word as a whole to the pixel grid. This means that depending on how that rounding happens, words can end up being longer or shorter by several pixels (in the case of your example, the margin of error is 2~3 pixels). However, that rounding error is compensated for at the next word position, so the overall positioning comes out the same, and word wrapping and page breaks don't change.

So, basically, if you print it, you won't see a difference. But on the screen, you will, and it might change as you zoom or scroll, even. But it will approximate (on average) the print position.


Thanks, this makes me feel better.
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