When it comes to design, specifically typography, these two words mean something different than we are all used to. These two terms are spacing tools that can really set your design apart if used properly. These terms also set the mediocre designers apart from the professionals. A good designer can use these tools but an amazing designer can use these tools effective for your business.
Leading refers to the distance between the baselines of successive lines of type, while Tracking refers to the adjustment of space between characters of type.
If the leading and tracking is tight in a paragraph on an advertisement then the paragraph will be crammed allowing little white space. White space in this case is breathing space and if there is no breathing space between words the reader will have a hard time reading it. If the typography is tight and crammed the reader is going to tense up and feel the lack of breathing space and quickly be turned off.
Leading and tracking can also be treated as a design element. For example if I’m working on an ad campaign for a salon and they want you to leave feeling light, free and relaxed I would design the typography throughout the campaign to be loose with a comfortable amount spacing between the lines of text and each letter. Of course this has to been done carefully as too much or too little in a sea of text could cause the opposite reaction but paying close attention to the spacing between lines of text and letters is what makes the difference between a good designer and a great one.
The attention to detail can set the tone for your next campaign or your brand as a whole.
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