Microsoft Word logo on a gray background

Kerning refers to the adjustment of space between two characters, generally used to improve the visual aesthetics of text. You can change the kerning in Microsoft Word in just a few steps. Here’s how.

Why You Would Want to Adjust Kerning

Each font has its own default kerning. Some fonts work better than others when considering the space between certain letters. Take the word “VASE,” for example. Depending on the font type you’re using, the V and A may fit nicely together…

Vase written in Arial font
Arial font.

…or there may be a staggering amount of space between the two letters.

Vase written in Californian FB font
Californian FB font.

This is visually unappealing and could be jarring for your reader. Adjusting the space between the two letters could solve this issue.

Manually Adjust Kerning in Microsoft Word

Open the Word document and highlight the text that you’d like to adjust the kerning for by clicking and dragging your cursor over the text.

Next, in the “Home” tab, click the small expansion icon in the bottom-right corner of the “Font” group to launch the “Font Dialog Box,” or just press Ctrl+D (Cmd+D on Mac).

Font dialog box launcher

The “Font” window will appear. In the “Advanced” tab, click the box next to “Spacing” to display a list of spacing options. You have three options to choose from:

  • Normal: The default spacing.
  • Expanded: Increase the amount of space between characters.
  • Condensed: Decrease the amount of space between characters.

Spacing between characters option

We want to bring our letters closer together in this example, so we’ll choose “Condensed.” Once selected, adjust the amount of space to be removed from between the two letters in the “By” box next to the “Spacing” option. To decrease the amount of space between letters, click the down button. Even if you previously selected the condensed spacing option, clicking the up arrow will increase the amount of space between the two letters.

Remove space between letters by points

Adjust to the desired amount and then click “OK” in the bottom-right corner of the window to apply the changes.

Ok button for confirming spacing options

The space between letters will now be adjusted accordingly.

Before kerning:

Before kerning example

After kerning:

AFter kerning example

Automatically Adjust Kerning in Microsoft Word

You can tell Microsoft Word to automatically adjust the kerning for fonts at and above a certain font size. This option only reflects text entered after you enabled the setting. If your Word document already contains text, you’ll need to select all of the text in the Word document (Ctrl+A on Windows or Cmd+A on Mac) before continuing.

RELATED: How to Control Line and Paragraph Spacing in Microsoft Word

Launch the “Font Dialog Box” (Ctrl+D on Windows or Cmd+D on Mac) and, in the “Advance” tab, adjust the “Spacing” settings by clicking the up and down arrow next to the “By” box.

Next, check the box next to “Kerning For Fonts” and then input the font size in the text box to the right that you’d like to apply the rule to. Note that this rule will apply to any text in the document at or above the input font size.

Apply kerning for font size at or above rule

Click “OK” in the bottom-right corner of the window to apply the changes.

Google Easter Egg

Results for "kerning" in Google Search.

Google is full of neat hidden Easter eggs. When you search “kerning” in Google Search, the letters in the word are spaced apart in the search results. Give it a try!

Profile Photo for Marshall Gunnell Marshall Gunnell
Marshall is a writer with experience in the data storage industry. He worked at Synology, and most recently as CMO and technical staff writer at StorageReview. He's currently an API/Software Technical Writer based in Tokyo, Japan, runs VGKAMI and ITEnterpriser, and spends what little free time he has learning Japanese.
Read Full Bio »