Typography Fails

Posted February 12, 2014, under Gosh, That's Handy!

Warning: This post appears to, but does not actually, contain foul language and suggestive images and may not strictly be safe for work.This was originally going to be an article about funny typography/layout fails.

Like this. Side note, they almost redeem themselves with that facepalm. Almost.

Good news! Unlike last week’s slightly ranty detour, we are back on track with lighter fare. Because at the end of the day, way fewer people will make bad life choices because something was badly typeset.

Usually your bad choices are the type fails.

Fewer, not none.

There are a lot of variables that go into doing a truly professional layout with excellent typography. Like many other disciplines, true expertise is shown by how easy one makes it seem.

Compounding the problem, for a few decades now, software has been readily available with built-in features that make it look, to the untrained eye, like users know what they are doing.

poster-of-avatarThis is entirely acceptable for interoffice memos and neighborhood bake-sale signs, but when you are promoting a multi-million-dollar feature film with groundbreaking special effects, directed by the man responsible for the top two highest-grossing films of all time — you might want to consider using a typeface that doesn’t come standard with every computer on Earth.

Heck, it’s probably interplanetary now, but even a robot is smart enough not to actually use it.

So using lousy typefaces is one common error. What else have we got?

The Space Between

In the combined interests of brevity and not giving away all of our trade secrets, we’ll just talk about probably the funniest and most common: Bad kerning.

Kerning is simply the spatial relationship between two letters. It is of particular importance in display type — meaning, large type treatments such as headlines, signage, t-shirts, etc., for the simple reason that kerning errors tend to be more glaring in large type.

Spacing letters out too much makes the words fall apart.

And sometimes reconfigure in less than ideal ways, as Bull Titan US learned to their chagrin.

Not attending to kerning at all just looks… off.

T, A, W and V nearly always require attention, and even big corporations that should know better often get this wrong.


When your kerning is too tight and letter pairs start to look like other letters, that’s called “keming.” This error has become so rampant that there is a whole website for showcasing examples. We’ve pulled a few favorites.

final registration

Do they even know what they’re getting into?


We are somehow unsurprised.

fuckering lights

Anyone who has had to untangle these would find this quite apt.


We aren’t doctors but we’re pretty sure this is not recommended until adulthood.


“Of course we like you, Clint. So much that we put it in the sky. Look!”

Don’t Be Like Those Guys

The point isn’t to showcase obscenities to snicker over like we’re 12 again. The point is that a professional knows to watch out for keming — and the subtler adjustments as well — so that you can put your best face forward.

Rigney Graphics is a Pasadena graphic arts company that can help you create an impact with design and marketing solutions for print and web.