Points/Picas and Didots/Ciceros - Typographic Measurement Debate

Hi, we are currently working on a university project to create 2 contrasting ISTD journals on the typographic measurement debate, one issue being on points/picas and the other being on didots/ciceros. but issues must be contrasting and 32 pages long. However, we are struggling with research into this other than the obvious differences of size, nationality and age if anyone could point us in the right direction of some good articles discussions we would be very grateful.

HVB's picture

Sounds as useful and as topical as a debate contrasting the cubit/palm system to yards/feet/inches.

hrant's picture

Don't forget the Japanese "Q" system! It's the most rational one.


John Hudson's picture

My clients Brill, the academic publishers in the Netherlands, use didot points to spec type. The most obvious impact of this was that using integer type sizes and leading results in a different visual proportion of interline spacing than corresponding Anglo-American points. I made my initial specimens interpreting their spec using Anglo-American points, and found the interline spacing too tight, but when I revised it to use didot points (by redefining the point scale in InDesign preferences), the result was better.

Bert Vanderveen's picture

The system proposed and introduced by Berthold (in the seventies, I think), and used by them for years until the demise of their photo-setting equipment business, was the most practical - based on SI-units: millimeters!

Too bad it never got to DIN-status.

Addendum: Or maybe it did. This article is not clear on this:
Interesting that Otl Aicher was involved.

Another addendum: Discovered that the Japanese Q stands for quarter millimeter. Smart!

Question that remains: did the Japanese go metric before the Germans?

John Hudson's picture

A base 10 system is grand for measuring things, but a base 12 system makes much more sense for developing proportional relationships. Seriously, a system that cannot express divisions by thirds except as repeating decimals is severely hampered in terms of proportional relationships.

hrant's picture

Good point. So, even better:


oldnick's picture


Sexagesimal? Really? Not getting laid often enough?

hrant's picture

What's often enough?
But actually, that's not a bug, that's a feature - I already have four kids.


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