Traditional point-size names

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Fonts originally consisted of a set of moveable type letterpunches purchased from a type foundry. As early as 1600, the sizes of these types—their "bodies"[1]—acquired traditional names in English, French, German, and Dutch, usually from their principal early uses.[2] These names were used relative to the others and their exact length would vary over time, from country to country, and from foundry to foundry. For example, "agate" and "ruby" used to be a single size "agate ruby" of about 5 points;[2] metal type known as "agate" later ranged from 5 to 5.8 points. The sizes were gradually standardized as described above.[3] Modern Chinese typography uses the following names in general preference to stating the number of points. In ambiguous contexts, the word hào (t , s , lit. "number") is added to the end of the size name to clarify the meaning.

Note that the Chinese font sizes use American points; the Continental systems traditionally used the Fournier or Didot points. The Fournier points, being smaller than Didot's, were associated with the names of the Didot type closest in size rather than identical in number of points.[citation needed]

Comparison table[edit]

Point American system Continental system Chinese system
American[4] British[1] French[5] German[6] Dutch Character Pinyin Meaning
1 American[8] Achtelpetit Achtste petit
1 1/2 German Achtelcicero Achtste cicero
2 Saxon Non Plus Ultra[9]
Non plus ultra[10]
Vierde petit
2 1/2 Norse Microscopique[11] Microscopique[9] Microscoop
3 Excelsior[12][14] Minikin[12] Diamant Brillant[9]
Kwart cicero
3 1/2 Ruby
4 Brilliant Perle Diamant
Halve petit
4 1/4 Gem
4 1/2 Diamond
5 Pearl Parisienne
Perl Parel
5 1/2 Agate Ruby[16][17] "Seven"
6 Nonpareil Nonpareille Nonpareille Nonparel
6 1/2 Minionette[18] Emerald[18] Insertio Insertio Xiǎoliù "Little Six"
7 Minion Mignonne Kolonel Kolonel
7 1/2 Petit-texte Liù "Six"
8 Brevier Gaillarde
9 Bourgeois[20] Petit-romain
Xiǎowǔ "Little Five"
10 Long Primer Philosophie Korpus
10 1/2 "Five"
11 Small Pica Cicéro Rheinländer
12 Pica St.-Augustin Cicero Cicero
Xiǎosì "Little Four"
14 English Gros-texte[22] Mittel Grote cicero
Grote augustijn
15 Gros-texte[22] 小三 Xiǎosān "Little Three"
16 Columbian Exchange Gros-texte[22] Tertia Tertia Sān "Three"
18 Great Primer Gros-romain 1 1/2 Cicero Paragon
小二 Xiǎoèr "Little Two"
20 Paragon[2][4] Petit-parangon Text
22 Double Small Pica[2][4] Gros-parangon Èr "Two"
24 Double Pica Palestine Doppelcicero Dubbele cicero
小一 Xiǎoyī "Little One"
26 "One"
28 Double English Petit-canon Doppelmittel Dubbele mediaan
30 Five-line Nonpareil
32 Double Columbian Kleine Kanon
Dubbele tertia
36 Double Great Primer Trismégiste Kanon
Kanon 小初 Xiǎochū "Little Initial"
40 Double Paragon Doppeltext[26]
Große Kanon[27]
42 Seven-line Nonpareil Große Kanon[27] Grote Kanon Chū "Initial"
44 Canon Gros-canon[28] Missal[29] Parijs Romein[30]
48 Four-line Pica
French canon
Canon Gros-canon[28] Kleine Missal Konkordanz
Kleine missaal
54 Missal Missaal
56 Double-canon
60 Five-line pica Große Missal Sabon
66 Große Sabon[9] Grote sabon
72 Six-line pica
Double-trismégiste Sabon
Kleine Sabon[26]
6 cicero
84 Seven-line pica Siebencicero[9]
Große Sabon[26]
7 cicero
88 Triple-canon
96 Eight-line pica Grosse-nonpareille Achtcicero[9]
8 cicero
100 Moyenne de fonte
108 Nine-line pica Imperial[26] 9 cicero

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Southward, John (1888), "Typography", Encyclopædia Britannica, 9th ed., Vol. XXIII, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, p. 698.
  2. ^ a b c d e Romano, Frank (Summer 2009). "The History of the Typographic Point" (PDF). APHA Newsletter (171): 3–4.
  3. ^ "Type",, Santa Monica: Sizes Inc., 2004.
  4. ^ a b c d e Pasko, Wesley Washington, ed. (1894), American Dictionary of Printing and Bookmaking, Containing a History of These Arts in Europe and America, with Definitions of Technical Terms and Biographical Sketches, New York: Howard Lockwood & Co., p. 522.
  5. ^ a b c Pasko (1894), p. 215.
  6. ^ Bauer, Friedrich (1929), Die Normung der Buchdrucklettern: Schrifthöhe, Schriftkegel, und Schriftlinie in ihrer geschichtlichen Entwichlung, Leipzig: Deutscher Buchgewerbeverein, p. 64. (in German)
  7. ^ Pasko (1894), p. 18.
  8. ^ The existence of such small bodies was only notional in the age of metal type.[7]
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Bauer (1934).
  10. ^ De Vinne (1900), p. 68.
  11. ^ De Vinne, Theodore Low (1900), The Practice of Typography: A Treatise on the Processes of Type-Making, the Point System, the Names, Sizes, Styles, and Prices of Plain Printing Types, New York: The Century Co., p. 68.
  12. ^ a b "minikin, n.¹ and adj.¹", Oxford English Dictionary, 3rd ed., Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002.
  13. ^ "excelsior, n."'", Oxford English Dictionary, 1st ed., Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1894.
  14. ^ Note that the American name for 3-point type was initially "Brilliant"[4] and the English name was initially "Excelsior".[2] The American "Excelsior", meanwhile, was originally 4-point type.[4][13] The situation subsequently changed.
  15. ^ a b c d Pasko (1894), p. 70.
  16. ^ "ruby, n.¹", Oxford English Dictionary, 3rd ed., Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011
  17. ^ Pasko (1894), p. 11.
  18. ^ a b "minionette, n.", Oxford English Dictionary, 3rd ed., Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002.
  19. ^ a b c Pasko (1894), p. 65.
  20. ^ Pronounced "burjoyce".[19]
  21. ^ a b c Pasko (1894), p. 229.
  22. ^ a b c The French gros-texte referred indifferently to type sizes between 14 and 16 points.[5]
  23. ^ Pasko (1894), p. 172.
  24. ^ Pasko (1894), p. 238.
  25. ^ von Bauer, Friedrich (1934), Handbuch für Schriftsetzer, Frankfurt: Verlag von Klimsch & Co.. (in German)
  26. ^ a b c d Staeck (1980).
  27. ^ a b The German Große Kanon referred indifferently to 40- or 42-point type.
  28. ^ a b The French gros-canon referred indifferently to type sizes of 44 or 48 points.[5]
  29. ^ Pasko (1894), p. 79.
  30. ^ Pasko (1894), p. 213.
  31. ^ Staeck, Erich; et al. (1980), Rechenbuch für die Druckindustrie, Itzehoe: Verlag Beruf und Schule, ISBN 3-88013-155-4. (in German)