RE: Metric Typography Units

From: Addison Phillips (
Date: Fri Jan 15 1999 - 21:15:46 EST


You're right that the leading (distance between lines) is the important
measure in matching a millimeter grid. However, it is expressed in point
precisely because fonts are. Setting 9 point text on 9 point leading
("solid") is obviously a problem, especially if the face you're using has
distinctive serifs: the ascenders and descenders collide. Stating that
you're setting 9/9 makes that problem immediately apparent. But what does
9(points) on 4.75 (millimeters) say? Is that solid? How much leading am I

Also, your comment about 1% accuracy is correct---once the type hits the
page most users don't notice. But at layout time the difference is a real
problem. 1% inaccuracy with 50 lines on a page is half a line off! Since
most software's underlying units are points and millimeters are
interpolated, Markus' comments about "crappy" metric implementations is
probably correct... and it's a bad problem to struggle with.

Don't get me wrong. I'm perfectly happy with points and picas. At least we
all have one standard. Perhaps someday we'll adopt metric paper sizes here
in the US and the whole typesetting world will be the same... (ah, the sound
of axes grinding...)


-----Original Message-----
From: Asmus Freytag []
Sent: Friday, January 15, 1999 5:26 PM
To: Unicode List
Subject: Re: Metric Typography Units

More to the point is the observation that Markus confused the distance
between lines and the point size of his fonts.

The former is the important one, and the one that affects whether things
can fit on a mm grid. Most sophisticated pieces of layout software (which
are the ones that let you specify the point size and line height
independently) support metric measurements for line height.

Many users just don't care for accuray in the 1% or less. Once text leaves
the original printer and gets reproduced (via copying) scale factors of 1
or 2% are common, and few people are bothered by it.


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