Point (unit)

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The point is a measure of length with two different uses.


The point is a measure of length that is used in typography and is 0.376 mm (dimensional symbols: p or or pD ). The typographic system in use worldwide goes back to the French type founder Firmin Didot . In 1780, this established the smallest typographical unit, the point, in its current dimension. It is based on the division of the French measure of length at that time, the Parisian foot (1 foot = 12 inches = 144 lines = 864 points). After the introduction of the uniform metric system of measurement in Germany in 1872, the type manufacturer Herrman Berthold found in 1879 that Didot's system also merged with the metric system: the meter (platinum meter stick at 0 ° C) gave exactly 2660 points. This system based on the metric measure was introduced in typography as the normal system and is used today by all font manufacturers at home and abroad, with the exception of the English and American, who work with the US pica system.

Through the introduction of American programming technology into computer-aided typography , the font sizes of the Anglo-American non-metric inch were adopted and the pica point (dimension symbol: pp ) was set at 0.352 7  millimeters.

General measure of length

The point as a general measure of length, also known as scrupel, is considered the 10th or 12th part of the line, depending on the decimal or duodecimal division of the foot . Not all historical foot measurements could be broken down to the smallest measure.

The dimensional chain was

  • Decimal: 1 foot = 10 inches = 100 lines = 1000 point (s) / scrupel
  • Duodecimal: 1 foot = 12 inches = 144 lines = 1728 point (s) / scrupel = 20736 fifth

At the Vienna linear dimension of 1.12 point line, so .18293 had millimeter The foot was expected 316.1023 millimeters.

Calculated from the fathom , 6 (duod.) Or 10 feet (dec.) Must be taken into account. For the old French Toise , in Germany the fathom and laughter , the following applied:

  • 1 fathom = 6 feet (1 F. = 324.8333 millimeters) = 72 inches = 864 lines = 10368 points / scruple
  • 1 Toise du Pérou = 1.9490363 meters
  • 1 Paris line = 2.256 millimeters


  • Gustav Adolph Jahn: Dictionary of applied mathematics: a manual for use ..., Volume 1, Reichenbach'sche Buchhandlung, Leipzig 1855, p. 231
  • Tables for comparing the previously common weights and measures of the Canton of Zurich with the New Swiss weights and measures. Orell, Füßli and company, Zurich 1837, p. 26.
  • Cornelia Meyer-Stoll: The mass and weight reforms in Germany in the 19th century with special consideration of the role of Carl August Steinheil and the Bavarian Academy of Sciences . Publishing house of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences in Kom.CH Beck, Munich 2010, ISBN 978-3-76960-124-4 , p. 251.
  • Franz Eduard Desberger: Arithmetic of the calculation with named numbers. Georg Franz, Munich 1836, p. 2.

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Victor Zimmermann: Practical tips for dealing with typesetting and writing , D. Stempel AG, Frankfurt am Main, 5th edition 1972
  2. Jurende's patriotic pilgrims: business and entertainment book for all provinces of the Austrian imperial state: consecrated to all friends of culture from the teaching, military and nutritional class, especially all nature and fatherland friends. Volume 21, Winiker, Brünn 1834, pp. 154, 283.