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Typography is the art and technique of
printing or typesetting. Developed by the Chinese
in the 11th century, printing made its way to
Europe by the 15th century. Johann Gutenberg was
credited with developing the first movable metal
type. Type size is defined by the height of the
largest character in the given typestyle,
including its ascender and descender. This height
is usually measured in points. Each different
size has a certain number of points. The height
and type style define the width. Each type style
has differing heights and widths for each letter.
Todays use of computers for printing and
print composition changes many of the conventions
in printing and adds thousands of new fonts and
styles. Composition by hand is practically
obsolete, but machine composition of movable type
will still be around for years.
* Much of our written history still refers to
things in common units. The Bible does not refer
to meters or kilograms, but to cubits and stadia,
or shekels and drachma. Wouldn't it be nice to
know what they were talking about way back then?
Now you can use megaConverter! For a more
complete listing of ancient, foreign, and
obsolete measures, download our
'megaSpreadsheet' of conversions in MS Excel
The smallest unit of typesetting.
Today it is commonly accepted as 72 points to the
inch. Traditionally there were 72.27 points to
A unit of measurement in the Didot
system, commonly used in Europe. A cicero is
slightly larger than a pica and is equal to
approximately 4.55 millimeters.
Also called a composing or job stick.
A device for composing type by hand. Typically
occupies 2 inches of one column, especially in a
Traditionally the em is the width of
the typeface's widest letter, a capital
"M" in any given typestyle. If the
capital "M" is 12 points wide then the
em in that particular typeface would be equal to
12 points. The en is half the width of an em. Em
and en are not available in the Typography
megaConverter because their size varies with each
of the literally thousands of typestyles.
Note: Because of round-off
errors, converting from very large units to very
small units or vice-versa may not be accurate (or
practical). Conversion factors can be found by
converting a quantity of 1 unit to another unit
several steps above or below the first. You may
need to string several conversion factors
together to find the factor from a very large
unit to a very small unit, and then you can use a
calculator with sufficient digits to find your