TYPE DESIGN INFORMATION PAGE last updated on Fri May 24 11:12:44 EDT 2024






Type measurements

[Headline set ARB-187 Moderne Caps AUG-47 (2013, Michael Gene Adkins)]


Basic old timers typesetting practices

Essay on points, ciceros, picas, em-quad, x-height and word space. By Rex Butler. [Google] [More]  ⦿

Difference between point systems

Alex Vakulenko explains the differences in this table:

  • 1 point (Truchet) = 0.188 mm (obsolete today)
  • 1 point (Didot) = 0.3759 mm = 1/72 of a French Royal inch (27.07 mm) = about 1/68 inch
  • 1 point (ATA) = 0.3514598 mm = 0.0138366 inch
  • 1 point (TeX) = 0.3514598035 mm = 1/72.27 inch
  • 1 point (Postscript) = 0.3527777778 mm = 1/72 inch
  • 1 point (l'Imprimerie nationale, IN) = 0.4 mm
[Google] [More]  ⦿


Small page on Anglo-American point, Didot point, Pica and Cicero. [Google] [More]  ⦿

Donald P. Goodman III

Donald P. Goodman III is a practicing attorney in the Commonwealth of Virginia, a graduate of the William and Mary School of Law and of Christendom College with a degree in history and a minor in classical languages. He has contributed several TeX packages for setting religious texts such as catechis (for catechisms) and liturg (for Catholic liturgical texts). In that context, he has designed the DRM font package in 2014.

The DRM (Don's Revised Modern) family of fonts are in Metafont format (for use with TeX). It has many optical sizes and comes in roman, italic and small caps styles. In addition, it has many ornaments, and symbols. Although written in Metafont, the author also provides a set of 103 (!!!) Opentype fonts. The opticals include 5pt (pearl), 7pt (minion), 8pt (brevier), 9pt (bourgeois), 10pt (long primer), 12pt (pica), 14pt (english), 16pt (great primer), 20pt (paragon) and 24pt (double pica). The table below gives a fuller optical size naming picture and its relationship with traditional American and British ways of listing type sizes. There are also Greek fonts. At the publication date, September 2014, the author was still working on the kerning---expect an improved package soon. The DRM fonts are wedge-serifed, and incorporate an odd mix of style elements---some terminals are didone, but other elements are more transitional or Caslonesque. Free download of the 6MB package.

Designer of Dozenal (2008), a metafont package for typesetting documents in base twelve. It includes a macro by David Kastrup for converting positive whole numbers to dozenal from decimal (base ten). It also includes a few other macros, redefines all the standard counters to produce dozenal output, and provides Metafont characters, in Roman, italic, slanted, and boldface versions of each, for ten and eleven (the Pitman characters preferred by the Dozenal Society of Great Britain). These characters were designed to blend well with the Computer Modern fonts. [Google] [More]  ⦿


In digital fonts, one works with a grid (2048x2048 for truetype and normally 1000x1000 for type 1). A cell in this grid is a unit, or Font Unit, or FUnit. The grid of cells is called the em square. The font size is both the horizontal and vertical size of the em square, and is typically reported in points. It is also called an em. If the grid is of size x times x, then we say that the font has x units per em, or that its UPM value is x. [Google] [More]  ⦿

[Richard Mason]

Richard Mason gives definitions and discussion of em square, dpi, ppi, font size, font height, and many related notions. [Google] [More]  ⦿

François-Ambroise Didot

Older son of the Didot printing business founder, François Didot, 1730-1804, Paris. François-Ambroise Didot inherited the work of his father François. Appointed printer to the clergy in 1788. He published "Artois" (Recueil de romans français, 64 volumes), "Dauphin" (a collection of French classics in 32 volumes, edited by order of Louis XVI), and a bible. More importantly, he invented a new printing-press, improved typefounding, and was the first to print on vellum paper. About 1780 François-Ambroise Didot adapted the point syste for sizing typefaces by width, using units of 1/72 of the pre-metric French inch. His "point", later named the didot after him, became the prevailing unit of type measurement throughout continental Europe and its former colonies, including Latin America. In 1973 it was metrically standardized at 0.375 mm for the European Union. Meanwhile, the English-speaking world adopted a "point" based on 1/72 of the smaller English inch. [Google] [MyFonts] [More]  ⦿

Goetz Morgenschweis
[Type Goemo]

[More]  ⦿

Jacques André
[Truchet and Types]

[More]  ⦿

Jan Roland Eriksson
[Typographical measurement systems]

[More]  ⦿

Jorge de Buen Unna

Jorge de Buen (b. 1956, Mexico City) studied Graphic Design in Mexico City. In 1994 he moved to Tijuana to work in marketing and communication projects for the Agua Caliente race and sports books. He has conducted several workshops and conferences at many important Latin American institutions. The second edition of his book Manual de diseno editorial (Santillana, 2000) is published in 2003, and the third edition in 2009. He spoke at ATypI 2003 in Vancouver on a new approach to typometry, and at ATypI 2009 in Mexico City on quotation marks (las comillas), where he pointed out that the <<...>> used in Spanish were just a natural evolution of the standard quotation marks (66...99).

He designed Unna Romana (2003), Unna (2004, serif family, done at Imprimatur) and Bardahlkia (1994). He often shows up in LA for type activities.

He moved to Querétaro in 2009 and is graphic designer there---his studio is called Imprimatvr. The first typeface published at Imprimatvr is Caliente (2012).

In 2011, he placed Unna up for free download at the Google Font Directory, and started cooperating with Hector Gatti and Pablo Cosgaya at Omnibus Type.

At Tipos Latinos 2012, Jorge won an award in the text category for Unna regular.

Klingspor link. [Google] [MyFonts] [More]  ⦿

Metric Typographic Units and Font Sizes

Markus Kuhn writes about typographic units and font metrics. [Google] [More]  ⦿

Mom (or: MOM)
[Pedro Mascarenhas]

Mom is the foundry of Pedro Mascarenhas, a type designer from Lisbon (b. 1967, Lisbon). Creator of Art Deco Neue (2011, a hacker font).

In 2013, he published the poster / fashion mag display sans typefaces Eliane Ultra Light and Eliane Bold, and the double view experimental typeface Mirror Display.

In 2017, he published Align Vertical Mono.

Author of TyMS Typefaces Measure System (2021), a document that explains weights in typefaces, including nomenclature and best practices. In particular, he gives this ranking:
100 Hairline
150 Thin
200 ExtraLight
250 SemiLight
300 Light
350 Book
400 Regular
450 SemiMedium
500 Medium
550 SemiBold
600 Bold
650 DemiBold
700 ExtraBold
750 Heavy
800 Black
850 UltraBlack
900 ExtraBlack

HypeForType link. [Google] [MyFonts] [More]  ⦿

Pedro Mascarenhas
[Mom (or: MOM)]

[MyFonts] [More]  ⦿

Point sizes

A point size explanation, gleaned from "RSD99"'s posting.

  • The PostScript point: exactly 72 to the inch. [When the PostScript page description language was being designed by Adobe Systems (Jim Warnock and Charles Geschke), the PostScript point was defined as being exactly 72 points to the inch. Warnock and Geschke had an extensive knowledge of real-world printing, and of computerizing that process. They apparently took the position that 1/72.27000072 was ridiculous and overly computationally intensive, and decided to use 1/72 for the value of the point.] In other words:
    • 1/72 inch
    • or 0.013888888888 inches (the "8" is an endlessly repeating decimal)
    • or 0.352777777777 millimeters (the "7" is an endlessly repeating decimal)
    This is the point system used by nearly all software nowadays.
  • The "American Printer's Point": proposed in 1886, it is roughly 72.27000072 to the inch. [The traditional American printer's point was defined by the American Typefounders Association in 1886. This convention was used by printers in the United States and England, and is still in use by those printers who use cast metal type. It is sometimes referred to as the "Anglo-Saxon point." The value of 0.013837 inches is from the NIST Handbook 44, Appendix C.]
    • 1/72.27000072of an inch
    • or 0.013837 inches
    • or 0.3514598 millimeters
  • The Didot point (of the 18th century ... roughly 1770): roughly 67.55818249 to the inch [Usually written xx ptD, the Didot point was originally defined in 1770 as 1/72th of the French Royal Inch. This French Royal Inch was 27.07 mm long, which was slightly longer than the English inch of the time. The Didot point is commonly used by continental European printers and typesetters. Since it is visibly slightly larger than the commonly used Anglo-Saxon "printer's point," the Didot point is sometimes called the 'fat point.']
    • 1/67.55818249 of an inch (roughly)
    • or 0.014802056 inches
    • or 0.3759722222 millimeters
  • There are also historical "point" measurements by Fournier (1737) and Truchet (1695), and one by the French printer Imprimerie Nationale.
    • Points (l'Imprimerie nationale): The l'Imprimerie nationale point was defined as 0.4 millimeter. It is now obsolete.
    • Points (Truchet, 1694): The Truchet point is defined as 1/12th of 1/12th of the French Royal foot. It was never accepted by the printing industry, and is now obsolete.
    • Points (Fournier, 1737): In 1737 Pierre Fournier formulated the first definition of the point as being 1/12th of the French "Cicero" type size. The "Cicero" was then 0.1648 inches, so the Fournier point was approximately 0.013733 inches. This definition was originally presented in his booklet "Tables des Proportions qu'il faut observer entre les caractères."
[Google] [More]  ⦿

Point system

I quote from a web page that is gone: The point measurement was developed as a standard in the 19th century by Pierre Simon Fournier and F(irmin) Didot. Known as the Didot Point System, 12 points equal one cicero. The British/American version (proposed by Nelson Hawks in 1878) is based on the pica - which is also 12 points, or 4.233 millimetres, but is actually slightly smaller that a Didot Point. The point size is determined by measuring the distance from the ascent line (top of the capitals) to the descent line (bottom-most descender). To confuse matters, many European countries measure type in millimetres (1mm equals 2.85pt). [Google] [More]  ⦿

PX to EM conversion

On-line px to em conversion page by Brian Cray. Basically, 10px is 8pt, is 0.625em. And 1em is 16px or 12pt. And 10pt is 13px, is 0.813em. Of course, these are only approximations. [Google] [More]  ⦿

Richard Mason

[More]  ⦿

Séamas Ó Brógáin
[Seirbhísí Leabhar]

[More]  ⦿

Seirbhísí Leabhar
[Séamas Ó Brógáin]

Séamas Ó Brógáin (Seirbhísí Leabhar) is an Irish type specialist based in Dublin. He has a page on type measurements, with a proposal for reform. His typefaces are all free:

  • Clara (2015). A text typeface created specially for printing A Dictionary of Editing (2015). The family includes italic, bold, bold italic, and small capitals, while the character set includes Greek, Cyrillic, phonetic and mathematical ranges, scribal abbreviations, and other specialist characters. CTAN link, with TeX support, maintaned by Daniel Benjamin Miller.
  • Florea (2013). Floriated type borders based on a sixteenth century model.
  • The traditional minuscule (angular) Celtic font Gadelica (2007). Based on the first authentic examples from the seventeenth century.
  • Germanica (2010-2012). A textura quadrata typeface based on a model by Fust and Schöffer (ca. 1457).
  • Valida (2012). A font for creating ISBN barcodes.

Old URL. [Google] [More]  ⦿

The American point system

Nicholas Fabian on the American point system. [Google] [More]  ⦿


Croatian introduction to typography and fonts. [Google] [More]  ⦿

Truchet and Types
[Jacques André]

A great article by Jacques André and Denis Girou on the lettering of father Sébastien Truchet, 1657-1729. Their thesis: the Romain du Roi font (ca. 1702) is the first digital font, as it has the notion of outlines by arcs of circles, grids as in bitmaps and dpi measurements, and even notions of italic transformations and hinting. PDF file of "Father Truchet, the typographic point, the Romain du roi, and tilings", TUGBoat, vol. 20, pp. 8-14, 1999. [Google] [More]  ⦿

Type Goemo
[Goetz Morgenschweis]

German language type site. Has a glossatry, type classification information, type measurement information, type history, type design information, the works. Link died. [Google] [More]  ⦿

Type sizes (anglo world)

Type sizes (approximately) in the anglo world, since Caxton:

Pearl5 point
Nonpareil6 point
Minion7 point
Brevier8 point
Bourgeois9 point
Long Primer10 point
Small Pica11 point
Pica12 point
English14 point
Two Line Brevier16 point
Great Primer18 point
Paragon20 point
Double small Pica22 point
Double Pica24 point
Double English28 point
Four line Brevier32 point
Double Great Primer36 point
Canon48 point
[Google] [More]  ⦿


German page by Birgit Neumann on type classification and type measurements. [Google] [More]  ⦿

Typografische eenheden

Dutch page with all typographic measurements. Also, many punctuation and other symbols are explained. Carefully prepared by Oscar van Vlijmen. [Google] [More]  ⦿

Typographical measurement systems
[Jan Roland Eriksson]

Jan Roland Eriksson explains the various measurements in typesetting. [Google] [More]  ⦿

Typographische Maßsysteme: Der metrische Punkt

Wolfgang Beinert's German page on various point systems. From his page:

1 Punkt (Didot-Punkt) = 0,376 mm
1 Point (Pica-Punkt) = 0,351 mm
1 Pica = 4,216 mm
1 Inch = 25,399 mm
1 Cicero = 12 Didot-Punkte = 4,404 mm
1 mm = 2,66 Punkt
1 mm = 0,237 Pica
1 mm = 2,846 Points
1 mm = 0,0394 Inches

03 Punkt = Billant
04 Punkt = Diamant
05 Punkt = Perl
06 Punkt = Nonpareille
07 Punkt = Kolonel
08 Punkt = Petit
09 Punkt = Borgis, Bourgeois
10 Punkt = Korpus, Garmond
11 Punkt = Rheinländer
12 Punkt = Cicero [ab 12 pt. auch Schaugröße genannt]
14 Punkt = Mittel
16 Punkt = Tertia
18 Punkt = Paragon
20 Punkt = Text
24 Punkt = 2 Cicero, Doppelcicero
28 Punkt = Doppelmittel
32 Punkt = Doppeltertia
36 Punkt = 3 Cicero, Doppeltertia
48 Punkt = 4 Cicero, Kanon
72 Punkt = 6 Cicero, Kleine Sabon
84 Punkt = 7 Cicero, Grobe Sabon
96 Punkt = 8 Cicero
[Google] [More]  ⦿


Wolfgang Beinert's German page on various point systems. [Google] [More]  ⦿

What is point size?

Norman Walsh on the definition of point size. [Google] [More]  ⦿