My fonts are horribly unkerned in LibreOffice. Example:

Here's a comparison, LibreOffice on top and Inkscape below.

Comparison of Kerning between LibreOffice and Inkscape

As you can see, LibreOffice messes up the kerning. The font is Ubuntu, 10pt in LibreOffice and Ubuntu, 13px in Inkscape.

The kerning problem gets less if I increase the font-size btw.

Is there a switch for activating the kerning in LibreOffice or is this a known problem?

  • 1
    The bad kerning only happens on screen. When you print the document or export it as PDF, kerning is nice.
    – fitojb
    Sep 13, 2013 at 8:48

3 Answers 3


Kerning is activated by using the Format->Character menu, selecting the Position tab and using the Pair kerning checkbox in the Spacing section.

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  • 2
    The kerning seems still to be way off. (Maybe it's the font-hinting that screws it up.) Still, this activates kerning, so I'm marking it as correct. I wonder why this isn't activated by default. Jan 21, 2012 at 15:49
  • 1
    That might be related to some regressions introduced with the switch to graphite2: bugs.freedesktop.org/show_bug.cgi?id=36703 Feb 19, 2012 at 13:10
  • 4
    I turned off kerning (was on by default as of LO shipped with Ubuntu 12.10) and had better results. The kerning is horrendous. I mean, it's epically bad. It's worse than Microsoft Word '98 kerning, OK, that's how bad it is. Letters just get sucked into their neighbours, or pushed away seemingly arbitrarily. It is not flattering to the LO suite of tools. To be fair, this is only from screen display; print appears to have nice kerning.
    – Dakota
    Jan 16, 2013 at 6:31

Do a "Select All" before you turn kerning on. Otherwise it will apply only to a local selection, possible the current paragraph.

(I am using up to date libreoffice on a Mac, but this should still apply.)


There are two types of kerning out there. The old style involves pairs of letters while the new style, GPOS kerning, supports pairing groups of letters. Adobe FontCreator and others now use GPOS and GSUB rather than the "legacy" kern table method.

The Linux Libertine font project (Wikipedia's font of choice) discusses kerning:

Nearly any good font contains kerning information, but how much time and effort the designer had spent on this feature is quite different. Until the late 1990s, the kerning information was defined in a long table pair by pair. Since OpenType there is the GPOS Kerning method, which allows a group by group approach. This is a much more elegant solution, because modern fonts with more than 2000 characters would otherwise contain thousands of entries.

The problem is that GPOS support is very rare. OpenOffice bug 31764 and LibreOffice bug 46055 both request GPOS kerning support and neither seems to have much attention.

2017 Update: LO resolved this in 2016/11. GPOS will be enabled by default in LibreOffice ~5.3.

  • I just learned something new today, thank you. Feb 6, 2016 at 16:05

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