Adjusting spacing, justification, and kerning

Letter spacing (tracking)

The spacing between characters in a paragraph of any alignment can have a subtle effect on the reader. PagePlus lets you experiment with the letter spacing of text.

To adjust letter spacing between characters:

  1. Select a range of text with the Pointer Tool.

  2. PagePlus tab character spacing Adjusting spacing, justification, and kerning Display the Character tab and choose a value from the Spacing box, using the slider or by typing in a new value.
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    Right-click the text and choose
    Text Format>Character… (or choose Character… from the Format menu), then select the Character>Spacing option. Set the Spacing value to “Expanded” or “Condensed,” and select a point value in the list. To enter a relative (percent) value, uncheck the Absolute box.

  • In Web Publishing mode, letter spacing variations are preserved when you publish the web page.

Paragraph spacing

Paragraph spacing is influenced by two methods: Line spacing, which sets the vertical spacing between lines that make up the paragraph, and inter-paragraph spacing which sets the spacing (padding) between each consecutive paragraph. Using the latter avoids poor formatting techniques such as pressing the Enter key between paragraphs to create “padding”.

To adjust paragraph spacing:

  1. Click on a portion of text in the paragraph you want to alter (or select multiple paragraphs for inter-paragraph spacing).

  2. Select Paragraph… from the Format menu.

  3. From the Paragraph>Alignment and Spacing section, either:

  4. For line spacing, choose a distance from one text baseline to the next in the Line spacing drop-down menu (includes line spacing expressed as a percentage of the current Pointsize %, e.g. 120%). This alters the spacing on every line in your paragraph.

  5. Check Initial baseline at text height to alter the distance from the top of a frame to the baseline of its first line of text. If checked, that distance is the same as the text’s point size. If not, the distance is the text’s leading.

  6. Check Allow for text advances to alter whether interline spacing depends on character Position (see Character>Spacing in the Text Style dialog). If it is checked, the spacing between lines will increase if characters are Raised or Lowered, to make sure the characters do not overlap the line above or below. If it is not checked, the spacing between lines ignores character position.

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  • For inter-paragraph spacing, set the before/after spacing using the Space before and/or After your paragraphs. The Before value is ignored for first paragraphs at the top of a frame’s column—for spaces between paragraphs possessing before and after spacing, only the greater of the two spacing values is used.

  1. Click OK.

Word and letter spacing (in advanced justification)

For paragraphs with justified alignment (when “Justified” or “Force-Justified” is set), you can subtly affect the spacing between words and letters present in a justified paragraph. Small letter spacing adjustments can make big differences to spacing, and are only usually attempted (if needed) after word spacing adjustment.

To adjust word spacing on justified paragraphs:

  1. Click on a portion of text in the justified paragraph you want to alter.

  2. Select Paragraph… from the Format menu.

  3. From the Paragraph>Justification section, select allowable Minimum, Maximum, and Optimum word spacing limits expressed as a percentage of the original font. Last Line min controls the minimum word spacing allowed on the last line of the justified paragraph.

To adjust letter spacing on justified paragraphs:

  • From the same section as above, select Minimum and Maximum letter spacing limits as a percentage of the squeezable width. The respective values 98% and 102% are often enough to improve results.

  • To make jagged text look less ragged in paragraphs not justified, check the Apply to unjustified text… option. This is applied to text considered to be outside the hot zone area (the spacing at the end of a line).

Optical justification

Optical justification places punctuation outside of the text frame’s regular margin, resulting in a much more polished appearance at the frame edge. By applying a percentage adjustment you can fine-tune the degree to which your punctuation is outdented. PagePlus also gives you the option to set optical justification on a range of other characters such as “—”, “–”, or “-” instead of punctuation marks (even add your own); you can also subtly apply first-character kerning by applying a small outdent to the characters A, T, W, V, and Y to reduce irregular blank space appearing on lines of text beginning with such characters.

  • By applying the feature to a text style (rather than to selected local characters) optical justification will be applied automatically.

To set optical justification:

  1. From the Text Style palette (Format menu), select a style, click the Modify… button and choose Character>Spacing.

  2. Check Optical Justification to enable the outdented character list below the check box.

  3. (Optional) To modify the characters and outdent percentages, edit each entry. Use Insert or Delete buttons to add new or remove existing entries.

  4. Click OK.


Kerning is normally applied where two large, adjacent characters look over- or under-spaced due to the shape of the characters, and is used to reduce or increase the space between the pair of characters.

PagePlus av1 Adjusting spacing, justification, and kerning

For example, the letters ‘A’ and ‘V’ look over-spaced when placed adjacent to each other.

PagePlus av2 Adjusting spacing, justification, and kerning

Kerning solves this problem by bringing the two letters closer together.

To adjust kerning between a letter pair:

  1. Using the Pointer Tool, click between the two characters for an insertion point.

  2. To increase space (positive kerning), press Ctrl+Alt+’+’.
    To decrease space (negative kerning), press Ctrl+Alt+’-’.
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  3. Choose the Kern submenu from the Format menu (or right-click Text Format>Kern). You’ll see a submenu to let you adjust the spacing. Choose Custom to enter a kern value specified as a percentage of the text size.

Typically the advantages of kerning are only noticeable on larger text, so the most detailed attention is applied to kerning when creating display text: headlines or text logos. As a rule of thumb, you should apply pair-kerning to text over 16 points. You can turn auto pair-kerning on or off, and change the point size above which it is applied.

To set the automatic pair kerning:

  1. Right-click the text and choose Text Format>Character… (or choose Character… from the Format menu), then select Character Spacing.

  2. To turn automatic pair kerning on, check the Auto kerning box. Uncheck to turn it off.

  3. To change the minimum point size for automatic pair kerning when it is switched on, click the nudge buttons or enter a new value in the box.

  4. Auto pair kerning will only have an effect on text which uses a TrueType font containing “pair kerning” information.

Adjusting spacing, justification, and kerning