Born in England in 1914, Tracy trained as a compositor with William Clowes.
From 1930 to 1935 he trained as a typesetter and worked for Barnard Press typographic studio until 1938. His next position was with Notley Advertising where he stayed until 1947 when he became a freelance designer. However his freelance days were short-lived as he was quickly recruited by James Shand to work with Robert Harling in the influential Arts & Technics publishing house which produced the journal Alphabet & Image.
In 1948, he was commissioned by Linotype to write and design Linotype Matrix, a typographical journal issued by the English Linotype Company. Towards the end of 1948 he joined the staff of Linotype and managed the typeface development programme, a position he retained for the next thirty years.
He was honoured for his work by the Royal Society for Arts in 1973 and appointed Royal Designer for Industry.