Japanese typesetting with English version InDesign

It is always tough to typesetting foreign languages. Especially if you don’t have a right software to do it. I’m a native Japanese, so the Japanese typesetting is not the hardest job for me. But if you are using English version Adobe softwares, it will be bit tricky as they don’t have some functions for the Japanese typesetting. I have learned a few tricks to make the Japanese type beautiful with the English Adobe tools.


Kerning: Metrics or Optical

With the metrics kerning setting, the spacing after punctuations is quite tight. On the other hand, there is nice amount of space with the optical setting. So I would use optical for a body text and use metrics for titles and headline.



Use Justify setting

Most of the Japanese typefaces are designed in a perfect square because a text flows horizontally and vertically. So people think it looks easier to read if the text is justified. Especially you are typesetting for brochures or books, justify setting is much preferable.

Left alignleft-align


Make the Japanese font 1-2pt smaller

Many Japanese typefaces are 10-15% bigger than alphabets fonts. So if you make the Japanese font 1pt smaller or bit more, X-height of the English font will become more similar to the Japanese one.

Helvetica Neue (8pt) vs Kozuka Gothic (8pt)


Helvetica Neue (8pt) vs Kozuka Gothic (6.5pt)size2

Some grammer rules

There so many grammatical rules for the Japanese setting, but I just would to mention only 2 things that you should be aware.

1. Avoid putting a dash on a very left side of a text box.
A dash and 1 in Chinese character is very similar, a horizontal line. If you know it is 1 in Chinese character, it is fine, but you can not do it with the dash. So if you don’t know if it is a dash or number, just avoid putting them in the very left side of the text box.

2. Avoid putting a small letter on a very left of a text box.
Japanese has small letters like キャッシュ(2nd, 3rd and 5th letter). These smaller letters cannot go to the first word of the line.

Do Not



The Japanese type setting is quite difficult even for Japanese people as there are so many different characters such as Hiragana, Katakana, Alphabets, Kanji (Chinese characters), and numbers. But if you follow my suggestions above, it will not look very unprofessional at least.








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