Tracking In Typography – Explained And Simplified For Beginners

  1. What is tracking in typography
  2. The importance of tracking in typography
  3. Different techniques to adjust tracking
  4. Common mistakes to avoid
  5. Exploring tracking in different font styles
  6. Tracking typography and its impact on readability 
Be kind on a sign symbolizing how tracking in typography is important to read a text easy.

First of all, tracking in typography refers to the adjustment of the space between characters in a text block. It’s about changing the overall spacing between all the letters in a word or a group of words. Historically, typographer works with type and typography has a crucial aspect in graphic design. Here I have made a little guide to simplify things if you are all new to tracking in typography. 

1. What Is Tracking In Typography

Most importantly, it’s important to note that tracking is different from kerning which is the adjustment of space between two individual letters.


Tracking can be used to add or reduce space between letters within a word, or between words, and can be useful for improving the readability and visual appeal of text, especially in larger fonts or for display typography.


When used judiciously, tracking can help to create a strong visual hierarchy, improve legibility and make text more pleasing to look at. However, overuse of tracking can result in poor readability and negatively affect the overall tone and impact of the content.

2. The Importance Of Tracking In Typography

When tracking is too tight, the text can become difficult to read and the characters can appear cramped. On the other hand, when tracking is too loose, the text can appear disjointed and difficult to follow.


Tracking is particularly important when working with small text sizes or condensed typefaces. It can also be crucial when dealing with text that will be read from a distance, such as on signage.

3. Different Techniques To Adjust

Thankfully there are some techniques that makes it easy to adjust tracking in typography. Here I have listed a few that might be useful.


1. Manually adjusting tracking using software: This technique involves using the tracking tool in software applications like Adobe InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop. Almost magically, this tool allows you to select a block of text and adjust the spacing between letters.


2. Kerning: Kerning is similar to tracking, but it focuses on the spacing of individual letter pairs. Furthermore, it’s fairly easy to use software to adjust the kerning of text.


3. Using a grid system: For instance, designers can use a grid system to create a more balanced and visually pleasing type layout. For example, a grid system divides a layout into columns and rows and helps to place text within key layout locations.


4. Using different font weights: More so, you can make certain parts of text more readable and easier to scan by using different font weights and sizes.


5. Avoiding excessive tracking: While tracking can help to make text easier to read, excessive tracking can cause problems. Understandably, it can lead to too much space between letters, making the text difficult to read.

Thank you sign with some leaves. Simple typography tracking
Be kind on a sign with some white flowers on the right hand side

4. Common Mistakes Easy To Avoid

While it can be a simple task, there are several common mistakes that people tend to make when tracking typography. There are a few but the three most important ones I believe are:  

  1. One common mistake in tracking is applying too much or too little of it. After all, when tracking is set too tight, it can make the text hard to read and cluttered. On the contrary, when set too loose, the text can start to look patchy and lose its coherence.
  2. Another mistake is not adjusting the tracking properly for different typefaces. As different fonts have different sizes and shapes, they require different levels of tracking to achieve optimal readability.
  3. Finally, using tracking to try and fix issues with poor kerning is a common mistake. Although tracking and kerning are related, they are different tools and should be used accordingly. Trying to use tracking to fix kerning will often lead to awkward, odd looking and unbalanced layouts.

4. Exploring tracking different font styles

Now comes the fun and creative part ! Exploring tracking in typography


So, to get started, choose a font family with multiple styles such as serif, sans-serif, and display. Then select a short phrase or word and type it out in each style. Adjust the tracking (letter-spacing) for each, making sure to keep the overall legibility of the text.


Next, compare and contrast the different versions. Most importantly, consider the impact of the tracking on the overall feel and mood of the text. Taking note of which styles work well with tighter or more spaced-out tracking. The psychology of fonts is well know to have an impact as well. Above all, experiment with mixing and matching styles to create a unique and visually interesting design. You’ll see, it’s great fun to do and you will feel creative. 


Finally, practice your new skills by incorporating tracking adjustments into your design projects. For instance, play with different styles and overall composition to create eye-catching and visually appealing designs. Remember to always prioritize readability and legibility when adjusting tracking in any font style.

5. Tracking Typography And Its Impact On Readability

Understandably, typography and font deconstruction  is important in shaping readers’ experience. Both designers and writers utilise typography to communicate information and create a specific tone or mood. However, the choice of typeface, font size, character spacing and line height, among others, can significantly impact readability.


The really important Readability refers to how easy it is for a reader to understand and follow through a text. So, for instance, if the typography is not well-designed, the reader may find it difficult to read, leading to a frustrating user experience and potentially affecting the message’s effectiveness. Ten typefaces of the decade is a good read for anyone interested in inept information. 


In conclusion, to improve readability and its impact on readability, designers should keep in mind the target audience, purpose of the piece and the context. Like where is it being read. Of course, factors such as colour contrast, font weight and font style should also be considered. For graphic designers typpgraphy plays a big role in logo design.

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