Letter spacing is essential in commercial graphic design – if you want to look professional. This article will demonstrate some common letter spacing techniques in the context of logo design and branding.

Logo Design

I have started with Helvetica (a sans-serif font) here because it’s very easy to work with (especially in caps) as all the latters are pretty much the same width, it’s also very bold. There may be times when this wide letterspacing works for you but with a logo you should always try less spacing as a general rule.

Logo Design

Bringing letters closer together helps to turn the word into more of an image. Reducing the spacing has also made the word much stronger – which is great when you are working with brand identity design. The letterspacing reduction above is extreme but sometimes it might need to be. Overall, less letter spacing works best for most logo designs.

LOGO5

[Illustrator: Window / Character] – For changing the letter spacing.

Logo Design

Now we have swapped Helvetica for Bembo to display how a serif font reacts to the same reduced letter spacing. Immediately you are probably drawn to the centre between the O and the G, after this you notice how tiny the L looks when compared with the other letters. This is to do with the weight, width and shape of one letter in relation to the next. In this case we need to look closer at the spacing of each individual letter.

LOGO4

What you are aiming for is an equal space around the main body of each letter. This doesn’t mean that each letter has a 2mm gap to the right, as your serifs (the bits that stick out) effect how we can actually use our space. Notice that the gap between the G and the last O is wider than the other gaps, and yet the letter G is still touching the letter O. It’s about finding the happy medium. I have also increased the line spacing between the L and the first O, by giving the letter more space it has become stronger and balances much better with the rest of the logo.

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This typeface is Bickamp Pro – one of the most commonly used fonts, alongside Helvetica and Bembo. Notice that the letters are joined up, this is going to cause us problems when we alter the letter spacing as the letters won’t join up correctly.

LOGO7

With a line space reduction of -50 you can see that all of the joins are out of alignment and although the effect does have quite a nice grungy feel about – it won’t work for one of your more classier clients. So the question is … “How do we change the letter spacing without ruining the typeface”?

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My solution is to use a seperate layer for each letter in your logo, all letter spacing from this point on will be done by eye – which is fine. Now that the letters are seperated some of the joins are missing, and some have changed.

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This is a rough attempt but you can see that we have eliminated the alignment issue. To take this appraoch further and get exactly the right effect you would need to rasterize the type and turn it into an image – which will be covered in my next tutorial… ‘Type as an Image’

  • http://www.designfollow.com/ designfollow

    thank for this great info

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  • http://designi1.com designi1

    Nice article!!! Nice tips… ty

  • http://www.loriskumo.com Kumo

    “if you want to look professional”

    First of all, if you want to look professional you DON’T design a logo in Photoshop !!!
    What is this ???

    A logo MUST be designed on vectors (Illustrator or else, we don’t care as soon as it is not a bitmap image). What if your client wants to put his logo on his building, on a banner or the window of his shop ? You’re gonna redesign it bigger ?!

    You lost a lot of credibility on this post, sorry…

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  • http://sideradesign.com paul

    If you design a logo with photoshop, you won’t be able to scale it, you should design it with a vector based software.
    but I wouldn’t know, cos I’m not a logo designer

  • info@leemasondesign.com

    Hi readers,
    Well done Kumo, who noticed I was using Photoshop in this tutorial – unfortunately I cannot offer you a packet of sweeties this time laddy!

    For all other readers of this post – the only serious application for designing logos is indeed Illustrator, do not ever use Photoshop.

    However, both applications use letterspacing when editing text and the point of the article remains the same – it’s an article about letterspacing, not about Photoshop!

    I will, however, use Illustrator for any future logo design posts, the same as I do commercially, (day in and day out) – in the mean time, somebody please give Kumo a hug as I don’t think he got many as a child lol!

  • Said Abdullah

    Dear all,

    realy nice collection and nice blog I like it .
    Also there is a nice collection in one software,I use it in my work to make logos what you like …. for T shirts logos cup logos company logs an other to downlad it direct just follow the linke and press into downlad it free
    http://www.ebooks.allnewthings.com/the-logo-creator

  • oleanderdesign

    Jeez, Kumo, good eye noticing the Layers panel image was from PS but lay off the “credibility” comments, eh? To a small extent, I do agree the post might have benefited from mentioning the use of Illustrator for proper logo work (and using AI snapshots instead of PSDs). However, the omission did not bother me at all as this is obviously not the point of the article, which is PROPER LETTER-SPACING & TYPEFACE. For basic usage & teaching purposes, I know that YOU know that the “character/paragraph” panels work almost identically in both software. Based on the level of detail the author included, I think it was perfectly informative for what it is: a beginner’s guide to letter-spacing and, to some extent, font selection (serif vs sans-serif, bold, character height-width, etc). It does provide simple yet keen insight there.

    Secondly, most of us accept that Adobe Illustrator is the industry-standard for logo work; only an amateur (we all used to be one – don’t lie!) would attempt use Photoshop to create a working logo for a company. HOWEVER, Photoshop can still be very useful during the creation process. For example, sometimes filters, displacement maps & other things are just easier & faster to pull off/render in Photoshop FIRST to see how they are going to look. Then, if you don’t like how it looks, at least you didn’t waste extra time in Illustrator; that “rendering” bar can take an infuriating amount of time should you end up not liking the result of applying a particular filter or effect. Conversely, if it turns out that you (and/or your client) do like the direction the look & feel is taking, then you use the best of your abilities to make it happen in Illustrator. You can’t mimic everything in either software (at least, I can’t), but you can get ideas and get pretty close. Sometimes, Illustrator is faster, sometimes not. Either way, we know the final design will be in Illustrator – so LAY OFF the douchey comments, Kumo. It’s coming off as a know-it-all troll posting rather than useful insight on how to further enhance future articles to help budding and professional designers’ skill sets & resources. I’m very grateful for every article like this that takes time to teach and not skip important steps, no matter how trivial they may seem to adept readers. If you have something along these lines to provide, by all means post a helpful [i.e. not "snide"] comment or – better yet – offer up a useful tutorial of your own.

  • Robert

    There are some good, basic explanations of letter spacing in this post, although a lot of what is said is really just common sense and tends to focus largely on using stock fonts in photoshop, rather than addressing font considerations for the logo design process as a whole.

    I think you should make it clear that you are talking about bold, purely typographic logos (which i assume you are?) especially when you use statements such as “Overall, less letter spacing works best for most logo designs”, because if you are not, then a lot of what you say could be quite misleading.

    I can think of hundreds of beautifully designed logos, where the extended spacing between letters perfectly compliments a slightly more condensed illustration or symbol and helps to balance the logo as a whole. Remember, there are no ‘rules’ in design, and it’s often elements such as contrast and balance that make designs beautiful and functional.

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  • http://www.discountwebdesign.co.uk/ imrozz web design uk

    You have written a very informative post about logo design tips. I came across your blog via google.com by searching for logo design ideas and relevant information. I have bookmarked your site and sent the link to some of my colleagues are will also find that useful.

  • http://www.autobility.co.uk/ Wheelchair Vehicles hire

    Great collection of logo design tips. Indeed logos needs to be be creative.

  • http://www.prestonracette.com/ Preston Racette

    This is a very good post! Keep them comming!

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  • http://www.weblogo.it Logo

    Great article, i think that a good success for a logo start choosing a good font and then customizing it..

  • http://www.swiftcreations.co.uk Swift Creations

    Thanks for sharing these great examples.

  • http://www.getqualitylogo.com/ Get Quality Logo

    Thanks for such an useful post!! Creative logos attract clients easily. The points you have mentioned are really helpful!

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