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Before my question let me state my assumption, which is that point size is measured from the highest point of the letters, usually the ascenders or in some cases cap height, to the lowest point, almost always the descenders. Further, punctuation such as apostrophes, quote marks, or accents, especially accents above caps, is not counted.
I was experimenting with Times New Roman today (forgive me) and noticed that when setting 11 pt Times New Roman (Open Type) over 10.5, the ascenders and descenders do not meet.
By the math, shouldn't they? The highest ascenders do not touch the lowest descenders.
It must have an extremely small amount of extra space either above or below.
Devout readers will recall my numerous bug reports about Typophile. Quite a few of them argued that Typophile should do what is known to work and not do what is known not to work. A great deal of knowledge about what works comes from MetaFilter, the community Weblog that is the model for such things. It’s more of a success than any remotely comparable site – 11 years old, 70,000 active users, a million pageviews a day; profitable; employs four people in tech development and moderation; moderated 24/7; includes the most important feature of all, MetaTalk, a forum to discuss MetaFilter itself.
In his book The Elements of Typographic Style, Robert Bringhurst sets forth what he considers to the be the ideal for setting text. He states:
- 45 to 75 characters line length (measure); specifically 66 including spaces; Single Column
- 40 to 50 characters; multi-column
- 85 to 90 characters; discontinuous text; generous leading
- 40 characters (minimum); justified
- 12 to 15 characters; marginal notes; English
He also discusses the ideal page to great detail on pp. 171–176.
I'm hoping to find other authors who've written down their ideals. What have you found as you've read? Would you share your findings? Even just the books and page numbers would be helpful.