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Printers Scales

A point is a measurement of .0138 or approximately 1/72 of an inch. In other words, there are approximately 72 points to the inch. All type is designated in points (10-point Caslon, 24-point Baskerville, etc.). Points are always used to specify the size of type. Typefaces may be set in sizes from 1 to 144 points but are generally used in 6 to 72 points. Line spacing is also specified in points (two points of leading, etc.).

A pica is used for linear measurements of type (a pica gauge is the printer's measuring tool). There are 12 points to 1 pica and approximately 6 picas to 1 inch. The length of a line is specified in picas as well as the depth of a type area. For example, a given block of copy is to be set 20 picas wide by 36 picas deep. Inches are never used in type measurement.

An agate line is a measurement used by newspapers to sell advertising space. There are 14 agate lines to an inch. An agate line refers to the space occupied by one line of agate type in one column. The width of the column can vary from paper to paper. A 60-line add can take several forms such as 60 agate lines in one column, 30 agate lines in 2 columns, etc.

A cicero is a continental unit of measurement for type, equal to 12 Didot points, or .178 inches, roughly comparable to a pica. It is named after the type cast for a 15th century edition of Cicero's works.

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