Home : Technical Terms : Tracking Definition

Tracking

Font tracking is a typography setting that defines the horizontal distance between each character. Most typefaces (besides cursive ones) have a natural padding on the sides of each character. The tracking setting adjusts this padding to be smaller or larger.

A negative tracking setting can be used to fit more text in a specific area without reducing the font size. Negative tracking allows more letters and numbers to be crammed into the same amount of horizontal space. If the tracking setting is too low, however, the text may become difficult to read. If it is reduced enough, the characters may overlap.

A positive tracking setting can help make text more readable. It may also be used for logos or other prominent text, since a high tracking setting makes text stand out more. However, if the font tracking is too high, the text can actually become more difficult to read and spaces between words may be difficult to discern.

Tracking vs Kerning

Kerning is similar to tracking, but refers to spacing between specific letters. Kerning allows certain letters to fit more closely without overlapping. A good example is "AV," in which kerning enables the lower part of the A to fit underneath the top part of the V. Tracking does not consider individual character shapes, but simply adds uniform spacing between each character.

NOTE: "Tracking speed" is unrelated to font tracking and describes the rate at which a mouse or trackpad moves the cursor. A high tracking speed will make the cursor move further with less mouse movement or trackpad input.

Updated: October 18, 2017

Cite this definition:

https://techterms.com/definition/tracking

TechTerms - The Tech Terms Computer Dictionary

This page contains a technical definiton of Tracking. It explains in computing terminology what Tracking means and is one of many technical terms in the TechTerms dictionary.

All definitions on the TechTerms website are written to be technically accurate but also easy to understand. If you find this Tracking definition to be helpful, you can reference it using the citation links above. If you think a term should be updated or added to the TechTerms dictionary, please email TechTerms!