Point - What does point mean?
This entry has two definitions:
A standard unit of measure. A point is a unit of length measuring one-thousandth of an inch (0.001). 1 mil is equivalent to 0.0254mm or 25.4μm (microns). The term point is a synonym for the much more commonly used mil. In labelling, this unit can be used to indicate the caliper (thickness) of sheets of labels and the face and backing materials used to make label products.
A standard unit of measure relating to the size of typefaces and fonts. The most commonly used definition of a point is 1/72 of an inch, with twelve points making a pica and six picas making an inch. The point is represented by the symbol pt and is commonly referred to as the "desktop publishing point" (DTP point) or the "PostScript point" because it is the measurement used by desktop publishing software. It should be noted, however, that the relationship between picas/points and inches is not exact; the measurement of a point is rounded to 0.0138 inches or 0.3527mm, so where, for example, 30 picas/360 points should measure 5 inches, it is actually 4.98 inches (rounded to 2 decimal places).
Historically, there have been a number of different point systems, each with its own unique value for a point; these measurements tended to be limited to specific regions (such as the US/UK, Europe, Belgium, France etc), where they were sometimes further adapted by individual printers. As an example, the most common measurement in the UK and US defines a point as 0.0138 inches or 0.3527mm, while the most common measurement in Europe defines a point as approximately 0.0148 inches or 0.376mm (this system is known as the Didot System, and one corps (point) equals twelve cicero (pica)).
The point is used to measure a number of elements involved in the composition of a typeface or font, including height and spacing (or "leading"). When used as a measurement of physical letterforms, such as the metal blocks that were used in early forms of printing, the point is a measurement of the block that contains a particular letterform (rather than the character itself). When used as a measurement of digital letterforms, the point is used as a measurement for the "em square"; this is a square area in which an individual character of a digital typeface or font is designed.Go Back to Glossary