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Kerning is the typographical term for the spacing between letters. It used to be quite the art form but the digital age is not doing us many favours. Some systems are getting a bit better at making good choices but often each letter in a given font is always the same width regardless of what comes before and after it.

Keming is the internet’s term for kerning mistakes that are so egregious that they actually obscure the proper meaning of the intended word. Whether it stems from a poor font choice or someone discovering they can reposition the letters without actually understanding the benefits and dangers of the potential choices, the results can be hilarious. I think what made the term stick in my mind is that keming looks like the result of bad kerning so it is a visually descriptive neologism.

A quick word of warning before you go searching for examples – most of them are vulgar. I’m racking my brain trying to think of an example where keming leads to a more beautiful word or phrase so let me leave you with this XKCD cartoon instead:

XKCD comic on kerning

Bad Kerning

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