Picas vs Inches

By: Maricon Williams

Points and Picas is the standard measurement for type. Once you’re familiar that 12 inches = 1 foot and 12 points = 1 pica, it’ll be easy.

According to Mars Crash Prevention, A pica is a unit of space equal to 1/6th of an inch. There are 6 picas to an inch. Actually there are 6.022499489 picas to the inch but 6 is the accepted number. That's pretty simple. A point is equal to one 1/12 of a pica. So, if there are 12 points in a pica and 6 picas to an inch, you get 72 points to the inch. And this does matter because we use this every day. When somebody says use 72-point type, they mean 1 inch high type. 36-point type is 1/2 inch tall.
In Points and Picas, Stan Ketterer discussed, “The basic units of measurement in design are points and picas. You use points to measure type size. Headlines are measured in points.

When you dummy a headline on a page, however, you must convert points to picas because pages are dummied in picas and sometimes column inches. A column inch is one inch of type over one column. There are 12 points in a pica. If you divide the point size of a headline by 12, you get the number of picas. For example, if you have a 48-point headline and want to know how many picas to allow for it, take the following steps: 1) Because there are 12 points in a pica, divide 48 by 12 to get the number of picas. 48/12= 4 picas.
In the article entitled Are Picas and Points the Same as Inches and Feet? posted inmydesignprimer.com, it gave the essence of knowing picas and inches. Though pretty useless in everyday life, there are times when this information can be quite valuable. If a designer wants to divide an 11" sheet into three equal sections, how big would each section be? I'm sure you're not the only one reaching for a calculator. But, if I told you there were 66 picas in 11 inches, I'm sure you could tell me that each section would measure 22 picas.

In the article entitled Are Picas and Points the Same as Inches and Feet? posted inmydesignprimer.com, it gave the essence of knowing picas and inches. Though pretty useless in everyday life, there are times when this information can be quite valuable. If a designer wants to divide an 11" sheet into three equal sections, how big would each section be? I'm sure you're not the only one reaching for a calculator. But, if I told you there were 66 picas in 11 inchesBusiness Management Articles, I'm sure you could tell me that each section would measure 22 picas.

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