Typography megaConverter #19

Introduction and Overview
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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. Today’s 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 format.

Glossary of Conversions:

The smallest unit of typesetting. Today it is commonly accepted as 72 points to the inch. Traditionally there were 72.27 points to the inch.

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 newspaper.

em and en
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 answer.