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Size

Size

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In this lesson you will learn how to measure type.

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Tutorial

What's Covered

Welcome to today's lesson on size. Today, you're going to learn how to measure type. Specifically, this lesson will cover:
  1. Current US Digital Standards
  2. Point, Picas, & Inches
  3. Ascender & Descender
  4. X-Height

1. Current US Digital Standards

Throughout this lesson, you will learn using current digital standards in the US primarily used for printed documents. So, keep that in mind, because web design, sign making, and other industries and countries use other measuring systems.


2. Point, Picas & Inches

Type is measured by point, picas and inches.

Terms to Know

    • Point
    • The unit used when measuring letterforms. A point measures 1/72 of an inch. Type is measured vertically from the bottom of the descender to the top of the ascender.
    • Pica
    • The unit used when measuring the length of a line of type. There are 6 picas in an inch.

Below is an example of what that looks like.

This image is not to scale, but it's large enough so that you can see the difference in measurements. A pica is the unit used when measuring the length of a line-up type, and there are six picas in an inch. Point is the unit used when measuring letter forms and a point measures 1/72 of an inch.


3. Ascender & Descender

Type is measured vertically from the bottom of the descender to the top of the ascender.

Terms to Know

    • Ascender
    • The name for the part of a typographic character that extends above the mean line or any character which has an ascender.
    • Decender
    • The name for the part of a typographic character that extends below the baseline or any character which has a descender.

Now, an ascender is the name for the part of the topographic character that extends above the mean line or any character which has a ascender.

Looking at the image above, the red line is what's called a baseline, which is the implied horizontal line upon which the topographic character sits. The black line you see is called the mean line, which in a lowercase letter is an implied horizontal line which falls across the top of the letter x. Then, the areas above would be the ascender or ascenders, and were you to draw a dotted line, that would be your ascender line where the ascender extends to. As you might have guessed-- descender, then, is the opposite. It's the name for the part of the topographic character that extends below the baseline of any character which has descender.

Terms to Know

    • Baseline
    • The implied horizontal line upon which typographic characters sit.
    • Mean Line
    • In a lower case letter, an implied horizontal line which falls across the top of the letter x.

4. X-Height

Earlier in the lesson, you learned that the mean line is the implied horizontal line which falls across the top of the letter x-- like we saw earlier-- and that leads us to x-height, which is the vertical distance from baseline to the mean line in a lowercase letter.

Term to Know

    • X-Height
    • In a lower case letter, the vertical distance from the baseline to the mean line.

So in the example below, you can see there are three different font types, but they're all the same point size, which is 99 for this example.

It's a pretty drastic difference across some of these typefaces, and the x-height can be a really significant distinguishing character between many typefaces.

Summary

Well, that concludes today's lesson on size. Specifically, this lesson identified that while this lesson used current US digital standards, not all countries work with the same standards. Additionally, you learned about the measurement elements points, picas, & inches. Finally, you learned how to identify the ascenders, descenders, and x-height in typeface.


Keep up the learning and have a great day!

Source: SOURCE: THIS WORK IS ADAPTED FROM SOPHIA AUTHOR MARIO E. HERNANDEZ

TERMS TO KNOW
  • Baseline

    The implied horizontal line upon which typographic characters sit.

  • Mean Line

    In a lower case letter, an implied horizontal line which falls across the top of the letter x.

  • Ascender

    The name for the part of a typographic character that extends above the mean line or any character which has an ascender.

  • Decender

    The name for the part of a typographic character that extends below the baseline or any character which has a descender.

  • X-Height

    In a lower case letter, the vertical distance from the baseline to the mean line.

  • Point

    The unit used when measuring letterforms. A point measures 1/72 of an inch. Type is measured vertically from the bottom of the descender to the top of the ascender.

  • Pica

    The unit used when measuring the length of a line of type. There are 6 picas in an inch.