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My Secret Party Trick

You know how some people have perfect pitch and can replicate or name a note without a reference tone?  I can’t really do that.  But what I have is perfect kern.

I can visually space letters without the use of a grid or any type of guiding line.  I can take this skill a step further and boast that I can look at any poster and tell you whether or not the letters in the title are properly tracked AND whether the words are perfectly spaced and aligned with other visual cues.  All without a grid.

The best way I can describe it is that it feels like when you try to take a deep breath.  Sometimes you try to take a deep breath and the air doesn’t really fill your lungs.  And sometimes you take a deep breath and it feels as if your lungs have fully inflated.  That is how I feel when I look at type: I either get that stunted breath feeling or I get the fully inflated feeling, and it has been this way since I was little.  (I get the similar feeling when looking at and matching colours.)

I think most people, if they take a lot of time, can properly kern two letters.  I guess my point is that I can quickly kern.  I can do it without using up a lot of time.  It is something I am proud of because it allows me to be my lazy self and not actually take out tools and the like.

Method created a game to test your ability to kern, and I played it, receiving 100% on each one after sparing each level only a few seconds.  Josh tried and he got about 80% accuracy.  So I needed to know… had my perfect kern rubbed off on the kids?  Or were they destined to be like their dad, placing their letter with improper spacing?

They each took the test and scored 100% on the first try.

Huge exhale.

I’m sad for Josh that his letter placement is destined to be aesthetically unpleasing, but thrilled that the twins and I can chortle to ourselves as we do unpaid design work.

How did you score on Method’s kerning test?

Why look at this… it’s a small post.  It would be perfect for tomorrow’s #MicroblogMonday if I didn’t already have something else I wanted to write about.  Do you have your #MicroblogMonday post ready to go?



1 dennasus { 11.30.14 at 8:22 am }

I scored 79, which I can live with 😉 But it was really interesting to see how differently it works with every font.

2 a { 11.30.14 at 8:31 am }

Need my computer to try this. I can tell when the kerning is off, but I sometimes think it’s off because the font is weird. Looking forward to trying this and reporting back…

3 Maud/Christine { 11.30.14 at 9:18 am }

That was fun! I got 83 but I didn’t realise on the first one that you could move more than one letter. I did get several 100s and 90s, so I feel smug about that.

4 nicoleandmaggie { 11.30.14 at 9:46 am }

90, though I got better as they went on (starting with 75, ending with mostly 100s).

5 kat { 11.30.14 at 10:29 am }

80% -proud of that score

6 Middle Girl { 11.30.14 at 10:36 am }

68%. Second quiz I’ve taken this morning and scored less than 80%. Note to self: don’t take quizzes on Sunday morning and / or don’t take quizzes before at least finishing first cup of coffee.

Low score aside, fun exercise.

7 Davidah { 11.30.14 at 12:01 pm }

68%. I have almost no visual sense at all. In college, all my posters would be crooked on the wall and it would drive my roommate crazy. Give me a spreadsheet to review over a graphic design any day.

8 Amel { 11.30.14 at 1:59 pm }

I’ve got 95. Pretty satisfied with my result. Kinda interesting game, never tried something like this before he he…

9 Jessica Martin { 11.30.14 at 2:42 pm }

88% – the Toronto one threw me.

10 amelie { 11.30.14 at 2:49 pm }

84 – surprising good for me as I get lost in shopping malls and no spacial sense alt all. I definitely need to leave the design work to someone else!

11 Sadie { 11.30.14 at 3:38 pm }

I got 93, though I srtared off with some pretty low scores and got 100 for the last few. Fun!

12 earthandink { 11.30.14 at 6:52 pm }

It turns out that I am a terrible kerner. I mean really, really bad. I think I was in the 50s somewhere. Also, I started looking around for other stuff to do at number 7, trying to figure out if I could get my score early. Ha!

This is especially funny as I was the copy-editor of my college newspaper and had to do the entire layout of the paper by hand. Exacto knives and rolls of various sized black lines and lots of sheets of various articles and lots of lining things up over and over.

I knew I would have made a better Editor-in-Chief!

13 Elizabeth { 11.30.14 at 7:28 pm }

I got 87, but I made a major mistake on the first one (didn’t realize you could move more than one letter) and didn’t feel like starting over, so that 0% hurt my score. But the only thing that bothers me more than a crooked frame on the wall is a guitar with one string slightly off-tune…

14 Colleen { 11.30.14 at 9:06 pm }

Oooh, that was so fun. I got 75, because of a 0 at the beginning like a few other people mentioned. I wonder, also, if there is a difference if you are using a touch screen vs. using a laptop track pad – faster? Better accuracy? Thanks for the chance to challenge my brain beyond planning dinner and wrestling kids into bed!

15 Ana { 11.30.14 at 9:13 pm }

Whoa. I did pretty terrible at that. Not that surprised, I’m not very visually inclined. Does this skill translate for you into being really good at sewing a straight line or painting/drawing lines? Just curious, they may be totally different brain areas involved, come to think of it.

16 Mali { 11.30.14 at 9:46 pm }

I loved this post – you made me smile. We all have something we’re good at! (Though you of course have a LOT you’re good at). Turns out, even though visually – including spatially and aesthetically – I’m usually very good, I am terrible at doing this. I got more than one zero, and more than one 100, but overall, I was really bad. I’m not sure how this will affect my life. Though my self-esteem has obviously taken a hammering!

17 Lori Lavender Luz { 11.30.14 at 9:57 pm }

Well, I can do the “Bernadette,” remember?

I scored 84%. I got a lot better as it went on.

18 JustHeather { 11.30.14 at 11:27 pm }

71% here, meh. It was fun.
I’ve already got my post up for Monday, before 4 am. Hah!

19 andy { 12.01.14 at 10:11 am }

I only got 63%, I’m not a very good kerner

20 Cynthia Samuels { 12.01.14 at 11:03 am }

I’m a 58 but not surprised. I have a terrible eye: great with words but those pesky images – not so much. I am working on a photo book for a gift right now and am petrified to finish the photo search because then I have to lay it out!

21 Stephanie (Travelcraft Journal) { 12.01.14 at 1:24 pm }

That’s super impressive – better than a lot of designers. (I was proud of my first-time 89% until I read this.) You just never know about people’s hidden talents!

22 Kasey { 12.01.14 at 3:44 pm }


23 Mrs T { 12.03.14 at 11:05 am }

That is quite a party trick. I can name the note played on the piano but only the piano so it’s not true perfect pitch. I can also bark like a dog very realistically. These things don’t come in handy very often (although the former was helpful when I was a music major)

24 No Baby Ruth { 12.04.14 at 6:35 am }


I found it reallllly boring after the first handful, so I answered the last ones rather quickly and my score improved greatly. Interesting.

25 loribeth { 12.04.14 at 8:37 pm }

I got 79. I screwed up on the first two, didn’t really understand what I was supposed to be doing. Once I got the hang of it, I didn’t do too badly. Now you’ve got me trying to think of what MY secret party trick would be…!

26 Geochick { 12.08.14 at 12:04 pm }

I got a 73, and I’m not surprised. Spatial relationships are definitely not my forte!

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