Monday, February 11, 2013

Inches Picas and Points

Happy Monday, good people of the blogosphere! How are you all today? I hope the start of this week brings you many smiles! Today, I'm gonna try and explain how inches, picas, and points are used in design. So, grab those pens and notebooks and let's get going!

An inch is a common measurement used in the U.S. Picas and points are international, universal, measurements used in design work. These two units are used to measure type and layout sizes. That way, a designer in the U.S. can do work for someone in the U.K. or Japan and the measurements are the same without having to do a ton of conversions.

If you've ever looked at the size on your type, you'll notice it's referred to as: 12pt, 14pt, etc... A 12pt type size is also a one pica type size. Click on the image below for reference as we move along.
Allow me to break it down:
1inch = 6 picas
1 pica = 12 points

So when you see a measurement like 1.5" it equals 9p0. That's 9 picas and 0 points. We got there by taking 6 picas (one inch) and adding it to 3 picas (half an inch).

But wait! Adobe products do the conversions FOR you! If you have 12cm, you type in 12cm and hit tab and pow! you have your conversion (28p4.157). If you have 1.285 inches, you type in 1.285" and hit tab and pow! you have your conversion (7p8.52). How awesome is that?

So the next time you're designing that all important book cover, pay attention to the type size. Remember, your leading (the space between your lines of type) should be at least 1.5 of your type size. In other words, an 11 point typeface would get leading of around 16 or 17 points but a 9 point typeface would get 13 or 14. Your decision (I like 11 on 17 and 9 on 14). See image above for examples.

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!



  1. I love this! It's very helpful for cover design especially since your cover must meet certain size requirements to publish.

    1. Hey now, don't get ahead of me! That's tomorrow's post :) Glad I could help!!


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