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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Measurement in Graphic Design

Graphic Designers often have to deal with different types of measurements like Point, Pica, Pixel, and Inch when doing design business in the United States.  If you are working with someone outside of the US it is very possibly you will have to work in the metric system.  Early as a designer I was just getting a feel for the US standards for measurement in design and had a client from overseas give me a small design project all in centimeters.  So what are all of these measurements and how does a designer use them?
Point: Is the smallest measurement for type.  1 point = 172 inches = 25.472 mm = 0.3527 mm.  As a designer I use points when I specify type sizes. For example the average measurement for body text in a design is 12 Points in size.

Pica: Is another measurement for type but larger than the point. 12 points = 1 Pica = 1/6 of an inch = 4.2175mm.  Printers use the Pica in determining how much type fits in one section of the design.

Pixel: Is a digital measurement unit for web page sizes and imagery.  Technically it is the smallest unit a screen can display.  It is a tiny dot not visible without enlargement of an on screen visual.  In building web pages standard screen sizes can vary based on viewing device but in the past a web page dimension was set at 800px wide X 600px high.

Inch:  Is a measurement unit for print page sizes and even image sizing.  Anyone in the US has probably worked with inches in other endeavors since it is so widely used.  Letter sized paper is 8.5 inches wide X 11 inches tall.

Just in case you meet the metric system in a creative project a quick review of elementary school math shows 1 Meter = 10 Centimeters = 100 Millimeters.  Approximately 2.5 Centimeters = 1 inch.

Hopefully this little run through will help you get a better grip on measurement in graphic design.

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