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Calculating Tracking Values


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In Adobe InDesign, the unit of measure for Tracking is "thousanths of an em".


But in FusionPro, you enter Tracking as "percent". But what exactly does "percent" mean? Percent of what? Of a "base" tracking value?


Is there a formula for converting InDesign Tracking values to Fusionpro Tracking values?

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I have always assumed it referred to the "base" as you mention. So a percentage less than 100% would tighten kerning.


I don't know if there is an easier method for associating InDesign kerning with FP tracking, but what I usually do is create my PDF out of InDesign with the FPO text in place using preferred tracking. I then place duplicate text in an FP frame and adjust the tracking amount until it matches the FPO. Finally, I either create a new base PDF without the FPO text or delete the FPO text from the existing PDF with PitStop.

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Hello Eric,

I do the same thing - (make a PDF with the text, use it as an FPO, then delete the text).


Seems like there should be a formula.

For example ... I have a business card where the designer specified tracking of "125" in InDesign ... well, what does that translate to in FusionPro? 12.5?


Thanks for your input.

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Yes, in FusionPro, tracking is a relative value, a percentage of "nominal" tracking, i.e. what the tracking would be normally, or 100 percent. However, the number in the tag is *added* to 100 percent, to specify the additional amount of tracking. So <tracking newsize=0> is nominal, 100 percent tracking. Specifying <tracking newsize=100> results in 200 percent of nominal. And negative 100, as in <tracking newsize=-100>, results in zero percent tracking, i.e., the characters are all stacked up on each other.


Basically, in FusionPro a negative number results in closer tracking, and a positive number results in wider tracking. However, this is all relative to the nominal tracking of the text at whatever point size is in effect.


In InDesign, tracking is also relative, since the width of an em (a capital "M") also varies by point size. It's not quite exactly translatable to FusionPro's tracking values, since you don't always want to go by the width of an em for each character. But generally, a tracking of 1 (width of an em) in InDesign is the same as FusionPro's zero (nominal) tracking, and tracking of 2 ems (twice the norm) in InDesign would be 100 (percent to add to the nominal 100 percent) in FusionPro. The formula is thus:


((InDesign tracking in ems) * 100) - 100


So, 1.25 ems in InDesign would be about 25 percent additional tracking in FusionPro. This isn't exact, but should be pretty close.


Generally, it's hard to make one composition engine match another's output exactly, since some of how text is laid out is as much art as science, and there isn't always one universally agreed-upon "right" way to do things.

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