Kern King is dead.
Long live Kern King!
The great template for kerning types.

A lot of typographer I know and follow were using a useful tool for kerning typefaces known as Kern King. Kern King was a great set of letter pairing set in a text helping graphic and type designers beautifully kern their work. Spacing and kerning, like letters themselves, are best judged within the context of words set in lines of type. Our eyes take in letters better as words than as random strings of characters.

To my great despair, I noticed recently that the site was unfortunately no longer available — I'm not really sure what happen. So as an hommage to the Kern King with special thanks to my friend Seb for finding the source, I decided to resuscitate the useful guide here, in our Journal.

 

Here's how it works:

First, complete the spacing of your font in progress, but before adding kerning, copy the Kern King text from this page, paste it into the font software of your choice (Glyphs, Robofont, FontLab,etc...), look at the words in lowercase, then as all caps, and see how they set. Make a list of all the problem pairs: those that are too far apart, and those that are too close together. Make corrections to spacing and add kerning. Check again. Repeat process until kerning seems perfect.

 

Kern King Part 1: Lowercase kern text

lynx tuft frogs, dolphins abduct by proxy the ever awkward klutz, dud, dummkopf, jinx snubnose filmgoer, orphan sgt. renfruw grudgek reyfus, md. sikh psych if halt tympany jewelry sri heh! twyer vs jojo pneu fylfot alcaaba son of nonplussed halfbreed bubbly playboy guggenheim daddy coccyx sgraffito effect, vacuum dirndle impossible attempt to disvalue, muzzle the afghan czech czar and exninja, bob bixby dvorak wood dhurrie savvy, dizzy eye aeon circumcision uvula scrungy picnic luxurious special type carbohydrate ovoid adzuki kumquat bomb? afterglows gold girl pygmy gnome lb. ankhs acme aggroupment akmed brouhha tv wt. ujjain ms. oz abacus mnemonics bhikku khaki bwana aorta embolism vivid owls often kvetch otherwise, wysiwyg densfort wright you’ve absorbed rhythm, put obstacle kyaks krieg kern wurst subject enmity equity coquet quorum pique tzetse hepzibah sulfhydryl briefcase ajax ehler kafka fjord elfship halfdressed jugful eggcup hummingbirds swingdevil bagpipe legwork reproachful hunchback archknave baghdad wejh rijswijk rajbansi rajput ajdir okay weekday obfuscate subpoena liebknecht marcgravia ecbolic arcticward dickcissel pincpinc boldface maidkin adjective adcraft adman dwarfness applejack darkbrown kiln palzy always farmland flimflam unbossy nonlineal stepbrother lapdog stopgap sx countdown basketball beaujolais vb. flowchart aztec lazy bozo syrup tarzan annoying dyke yucky hawg gagzhukz cuzco squire when hiho mayhem nietzsche szasz gumdrop milk emplotment ambidextrously lacquer byway ecclesiastes stubchen hobgoblins crabmill aqua hawaii blvd. subquality byzantine empire debt obvious cervantes jekabzeel anecdote flicflac mechanicville bedbug couldn’t i’ve it’s they’ll they’d dpt. headquarter burkhardt xerxes atkins govt. ebenezer lg. lhama amtrak amway fixity axmen quumbabda upjohn hrumpf

 

Kern King Part 2: Uppercase kern text

LYNX TUFT FROGS, DOLPHINS ABDUCT BY PROXY THE EVER AWKWARD KLUTZ, DUD, DUMMKOPF, JINX SNUBNOSE FILMGOER, ORPHAN SGT. RENFRUW GRUDGEK REYFUS, MD. SIKH PSYCH IF HALT TYMPANY JEWELRY SRI HEH! TWYER VS JOJO PNEU FYLFOT ALCAABA SON OF NONPLUSSED HALFBREED BUBBLY PLAYBOY GUGGENHEIM DADDY COCCYX SGRAFFITO EFFECT, VACUUM DIRNDLE IMPOSSIBLE ATTEMPT TO DISVALUE, MUZZLE THE AFGHAN CZECH CZAR AND EXNINJA, BOB BIXBY DVORAK WOOD DHURRIE SAVVY, DIZZY EYE AEON CIRCUMCISION UVULA SCRUNGY PICNIC LUXURIOUS SPECIAL TYPE CARBOHYDRATE OVOID ADZUKI KUMQUAT BOMB? AFTERGLOWS GOLD GIRL PYGMY GNOME LB. ANKHS ACME AGGROUPMENT AKMED BROUHHA TV WT. UJJAIN MS. OZ ABACUS MNEMONICS BHIKKU KHAKI BWANA AORTA EMBOLISM VIVID OWLS OFTEN KVETCH OTHERWISE, WYSIWYG DENSFORT WRIGHT YOU’VE ABSORBED RHYTHM, PUT OBSTACLE KYAKS KRIEG KERN WURST SUBJECT ENMITY EQUITY COQUET QUORUM PIQUE TZETSE HEPZIBAH SULFHYDRYL BRIEFCASE AJAX EHLER KAFKA FJORD ELFSHIP HALFDRESSED JUGFUL EGGCUP HUMMINGBIRDS SWINGDEVIL BAGPIPE LEGWORK REPROACHFUL HUNCHBACK ARCHKNAVE BAGHDAD WEJH RIJSWIJK RAJBANSI RAJPUT AJDIR OKAY WEEKDAY OBFUSCATE SUBPOENA LIEBKNECHT MARCGRAVIA ECBOLIC ARCTICWARD DICKCISSEL PINCPINC BOLDFACE MAIDKIN ADJECTIVE ADCRAFT ADMAN DWARFNESS APPLEJACK DARKBROWN KILN PALZY ALWAYS FARMLAND FLIMFLAM UNBOSSY NONLINEAL STEPBROTHER LAPDOG STOPGAP SX COUNTDOWN BASKETBALL BEAUJOLAIS VB. FLOWCHART AZTEC LAZY BOZO SYRUP TARZAN ANNOYING DYKE YUCKY HAWG GAGZHUKZ CUZCO SQUIRE WHEN HIHO MAYHEM NIETZSCHE SZASZ GUMDROP MILK EMPLOTMENT AMBIDEXTROUSLY LACQUER BYWAY ECCLESIASTES STUBCHEN HOBGOBLINS CRABMILL AQUA HAWAII BLVD. SUBQUALITY BYZANTINE EMPIRE DEBT OBVIOUS CERVANTES JEKABZEEL ANECDOTE FLICFLAC MECHANICVILLE BEDBUG COULDN’T I’VE IT’S THEY’LL THEY’D DPT. HEADQUARTER BURKHARDT XERXES ATKINS GOVT. EBENEZER LG. LHAMA AMTRAK AMWAY FIXITY AXMEN QUUMBABDA UPJOHN HRUMPF

 

Kern King Part 3: Sentence case kern text

Aaron Abraham Adam Aeneas Agfa Ahoy Aileen Akbar Alanon Americanism Anglican Aorta April Fool’s Day Aqua Lung (Tm.) Arabic Ash Wednesday Authorized Version Ave Maria Away Axel Ay Aztec Bhutan Bill Bjorn Bk Btu. Bvart Bzonga California Cb Cd Cervantes Chicago Clute City, Tx. Cmdr. Cnossus Coco Cracker State, Georgia Cs Ct. Cwacker Cyrano David Debra Dharma Diane Djakarta Dm Dnepr Doris Dudley Dwayne Dylan Dzerzhinsk Eames Ectomorph Eden Eerie Effingham, Il. Egypt Eiffel Tower Eject Ekland Elmore Entreaty Eolian Epstein Equine Erasmus Eskimo Ethiopia Europe Eva Ewan Exodus Jan van Eyck Ezra Fabian February Fhara Fifi Fjord Florida Fm France Fs Ft. Fury Fyn Gabriel Gc Gdynia Gehrig Ghana Gilligan Karl Gjellerup Gk. Glen Gm Gnosis Gp.E. Gregory Gs Gt. Br. Guinevere Gwathmey Gypsy Gzags Hebrew Hf Hg Hileah Horace Hrdlicka Hsia Hts. Hubert Hwang Hai Hyacinth Hz. Iaccoca Ibsen Iceland Idaho If Iggy Ihre Ijit Ike Iliad Immediate Innocent Ione Ipswitch Iquarus Ireland Island It Iud Ivert Iwerks Ixnay Iy Jasper Jenks Jherry Jill Jm Jn Jorge Jr. Julie Kerry Kharma Kiki Klear Koko Kruse Kusack Kylie Laboe Lb. Leslie Lhihane Llama Lorrie Lt. Lucy Lyle Madeira Mechanic Mg. Minnie Morrie Mr. Ms. Mt. Music My Nanny Nellie Nillie Novocane Null Nyack Oak Oblique Occarina Odd Oedipus Off Ogmane Ohio Oil Oj Oklahoma Olio Omni Only Oops Opera Oqu Order Ostra Ottmar Out Ovum Ow Ox Oyster Oz Parade Pd. Pepe Pfister Pg. Phil Pippi Pj Please Pneumonia Porridge Price Psalm Pt. Purple Pv Pw Pyre Qt. Quincy Radio Rd. Red Rhea Right Rj Roche Rr Rs Rt. Rural Rwanda Ryder Sacrifice Series Sgraffito Shirt Sister Skeet Slow Smore Snoop Soon Special Squire Sr St. Suzy Svelte Swiss Sy Szach Td Teach There Title Total Trust Tsena Tulip Twice Tyler Tzean Ua Udder Ue Uf Ugh Uh Ui Uk Ul Um Unkempt Uo Up Uq Ursula Use Utmost Uvula Uw Uxurious Uzßai Valerie Velour Vh Vicky Volvo Vs Water Were Where With World Wt. Wulk Wyler Xavier Xerox Xi Xylophone Yaboe Year Yipes Yo Ypsilant Ys Yu Zabar’s Zero Zhane Zizi Zorro Zu Zy Don’t I’ll I’m I’se

 

Kern King Part 4: Number kern text

0010203040500607080900
10112131415116171819100
20212232425226272829200
30313233435336373839300
40414243445446474849400
50515253545556575859500
6061626364656676869600
7071727374757677879700
8081828384858687889800
9091929394959697989900

(1)(2)(3)(4)(5)(6)(7)(8)(9)(0) 

$00 $10 $20 $30 $40 $50 $60 $70 $80 $90

£00 £10 £20 £30 £40 £50 £60 £70 £80 £90

00¢ 11¢ 22¢ 33¢ 44¢ 55¢ 66¢ 77¢ 88¢ 99¢

00% 0‰ 0-0.0,0…0°
11% 1‰ 1-1.1,1…1°
12% 2‰ 2-2.2,2…2°
13% 3‰ 3-3.3,3…3°
14% 4‰ 4-4.4,4…4°
15% 5‰ 5-5.5,5…5°
16% 6‰ 6-6.6,6…6°
17% 7‰ 7-7.7,7…7°
18% 8‰ 8-8.8,8…8°
19% 9‰ 9-9.9,9…9°

 

Here it is folks!

That should give you a great start to kerning your typefaces! One other trick I use is when I want to try my fonts in context I go to a big news site (like nytimes.com) and change the body typeface in the CSS of the page in the developper menu. More info on this here. It's really easy to spot any aberrations that way. If you want to go into more details with you kerning you can use the content here. There's less context but you pretty much have all the possible pairs there.

 

Thank you so much for reading!

We also create a couple of guides to pairing free fonts. You can go read Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 and get inspired!

Make sure to check out (and download) all our free fonts here to use in your next project!

We also recently launched a new free font called Gosha Sans, make sure you get your hands this beautiful free to try font!

Cheers!


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