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Explore the numerous type options, type-related features, and type-specific preferences of Adobe InDesign. Using practical, real-world examples, instructor and designer Nigel French dissects the anatomy of a typeface and defines the vocabulary of typography. The course moves from the micro to the macro level, addressing issues such as choosing page size, determining the size of margins, adjusting number columns, and achieving a clean look with baseline grids. This course takes you from laying out a page to delving into the hows and whys of typography.
Okay, we've looked at kerning examples, and when you might kern. Now let's look at when you might track. So I have some examples of different tracking scenarios. Firstly, let's say we want to create some sort of headline treatment, and we would like to experiment with the tracking values. What I am about to say is a very big generalization, so I caution you, but the generalization is this: when you're working with serif typefaces, they tend to look better when loosely tracked.
So on the left, we have no tracking applied, in the middle, loose tracking, which I think makes the serif typeface -- in this case, it's Trajan Pro -- look very elegant and sophisticated. And on the right, not so successful. We see the serifs of the letter forms colliding; tight tracking. Now, perhaps we could say that the opposite is true when we work with sans serif typefaces. These tend to work better when there is tight tracking applied.
So on the left, no tracking, loose tracking in the middle, and then tight tracking. And the reason here is that we are using a sans serif typeface to create a density in our type, and we are loosing the density with the loose tracking, but by bringing the letter spacing as tight as the leading, the horizontal spacing, we are creating a real impactful density to our type that is lost in this example in the middle, and which is lessoned with no tracking in the example on the left-hand side.
Let's move on and look at another example of when we might want to apply tracking. In this case, I am going to apply tracking to fix a spacing problem, specifically to fix that orphaned word that occurs at the top of page 3. So here what I want to do is select the whole paragraph, four clicks, and then I want to apply a modest amount of tracking. Now, the key here is we don't want anyone to know; this is our secret, so we want to apply as little tracking as possible, so it's very important that before we do this, we make sure that in our Unit & Increments, we have our kerning and tracking preference set up to the smallest amount possible: 1/1000 of an em.
Incidentally, any QuarkXPress users out there, if you're equating these values to the values that you are used to using in QuarkXPress, the InDesign values are five times more sensitive, so that a value of five in InDesign is equivalent to a value of one in QuarkXPress. Okay, end of digression. My paragraph selected, I am going to press Alt+left arrow or Option+left arrow, and I am going to keep pressing it, and you can see that as I do so, my value is going to change here.
Keep pressing it as many times as necessary until I bring that word down to the bottom of page 2. Now, in such a scenario, how much can you apply and get away with it without anyone noticing? And I'd say you have to find your own personal standard here, but I would advise that anything up to -10, no one is going to notice. Anything between -10 and -15, that's marginal, and you may get away with it. It may be the lesser of the evils, but possibly you might want to find an alternative solution.
But anything more than -15, and then that is going to show, so you definitely, in that case, need to find another solution to your spacing problem. Now incidentally, and related to this, I am going to turn on my guides, I am going to go to my Normal view, and there is useful preference relating to your kerning, and your tracking, and that's the ability to be able to see, at a glance, with green highlighting where kerning and tracking has been applied. So I am going to come to my Preferences, and to Composition, and then check, Custom Tracking/Kerning, and I can now see at a glace with green highlighting.
Now of course, I just did it, so I knew it was there, but this is a useful thing to have on, especially if you are inheriting a document from somebody else, and you want to see where they may have applied kerning or tracking. Maybe their standards aren't as rigorous as your own. Or if you have, throughout the course of producing a document, you've reluctantly applied kerning and tracking, because it seemed like the lesser of the evils, and typography is very much about compromise. It may have, at the time, seemed like a worthwhile compromise, but maybe something about your document has changed. Maybe the text has been edited, so that that compromise is no longer necessary.
With this highlighting, you can spot at a glance where the tracking has been applied, and if necessary, go back and remove it. That brings me on to my next point, and here we have two pieces of text that are, to all intents and purposes, identical. Now, on the left-hand side, I have achieved a tight letter fit using tracking. On the right-hand side, I have achieved the same look, a tight letter fit, but using word spacing and letter spacing.
I would argue it's preferable to do it the way I have done it on the right-hand side, and that's because if you do it this way, if you apply tracking to everything, then you cannot use the preference that we just saw on the previous page to show you where the tracking has been applied as an exception, because when you turn it on, everything is going to be in green, and not just the exceptions. So rather than select your type, and come and apply -10 tracking as I have done there, what I did instead was, through the Justification dialog box, I reduced the amount of Desired Word Spacing, and also the Letter Spacing, the Minimum, the Desired, and the Maximum amount of Letter Spacing, and that gets the same end result, but with the added benefit of being able to see where custom tracking has been applied as an exception. And I may want to do that here; I may want to bring that last word back up to the previous line, in which case I can select the paragraph, Option or Alt and my left arrow, we see the green highlighting immediately appear, and then I can, with -7, so that's within my comfort zone, -7, I can bring that word back up to the next line.
Just one other thing relating to tracking, and that is that we have the ability to adjust specifically and only the spacing between the words, and not the spacing between the words and the characters. And that's what we have going on here in this example, in the middle, where only the word spacing has been adjusted, and you can see that indicated by the custom tracking and kerning composition preference that is turned on. So if you just need to tighten up the word spacing, here is how you can do it.
I am going to select this top example, where no adjustment has been made. The keyboard shortcut for this is Command+ Option+Shift and the Delete key. That's Control+Alt+Shift and the Backspace key. And when I do that, we automatically see the highlighting come on, but it's only the word spacing that's being adjusted, and not the letter spacing as well as the word spacing, which is what will happen when you apply tracking. And if we just want to compare those different results without any guides or highlighting on, that's how they look.
It's not often that I need to do that, but every once in a while on a headline I do find it a useful thing to have up my sleeve. So there we see some examples of tracking, and adjusting word spacing, and tracking for aesthetic reasons, tracking to fit the spacing problems, the issue of achieving a tight letter fit for a word spacing and letter spacing as opposed to tracking, and the issue of highlighting where the custom tracking and kerning has been applied for a composition preference, and then finally, the ability to adjust only the spaces between the words.
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