Typeface sizes on computer monitor

I’m looking into purchasing my first typefaces and since I don’t have anything to reference to determine the sizes, I’m wondering if it’s possible to calibrate my computer monitor to approximate the sizes? If so, how do I go about it?

Also, I’m assuming type is sized by the height of the lead base. And all faces vary in size. Is there a way to approximate the height of the capitols?
For instance, I’m interested in 18 point Centaur. I’d like to make sure the title of my business will fit properly on a business card before I order the type. How could I determine the approximate pica height of a capitol letter?

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Many faces are available in metal that can also be purchased for the computer. Centaur being one of them.

You have to realize that the measure of the letter widths are not going to be the same for metal type and computer type. Every type is designed with set widths for the body of each letter and the spacing between letters varies with different typefaces. Using the computer to set a line of type will almost always be a shorter measure than the actual metal type. You can adjust the letter spacing in the computer to try to mimic the metal but it is a trail and error process.

The height should be the same whether it is 18 pt Centaur metal or computer.

Probably the best way to find out the length of 18 pt Centaur, set in your business name, is to ask someone here to take about 2 minutes and set it and then measure it. (I don’t have Centaur so I can’t do it for you, unfortunately). There may possibly be different versions of Centaur out there (I’m not familiar with how many foundries cast it), so I assume you will be purchasing a Monotype version, and the person who sets your name should also use that version.

You will of course have to tell us what your busines name is, in order for someone to help you. Also we will have to know how it is to be set (all caps or upper & lower case).

You are right that the type size is the size of the body which the type is cast on. One point is .0138 inch, and 72 points is very close to 1 inch.

Regarding calibration of my computer monitor to show actual type size: I just did a little experimenting with Microsoft Word. If I set a few letters in 72 point (as an example), and then highlight them with my mouse, (or if I put a text highlight color behind the letters), I basically can see the size of the type body. Then I held my line gauge up to my computer monitor. In my case, the image on the screen was much bigger than 72 point (1 inch). However, if I then click on View (at the top of the screen), and then Zoom, and by experimenting with different Zoom levels, with the line gauge against the screen, I found that if I set the Zoom at 63%, it is 1 inch high. So in a crude but reasonably accurate way, I have then calibrated my monitor image to the actual type size.

I would imagine that different monitors will require different zoom levels to achieve a calibration in this way.

Percival, Sir, if you key in on Google, the Expression *Pencil to Pixels* you will see a whole list of items with this heading.
I am sure they will give you all the up to date info on DIGITIZED Typefaces, with every cross reference, going way back.
An exhibition was mounted in London, U.K. some 18 months ago, under the Auspices of the Monotype Archives, Working out of the Original Monotype Works, Redhill, U.K.
But apparently administered and mounted by the American Arm.!!! … I attended as a longtime Hot Metal Monotype Operator/Enthusiast, The exhibition dealt with virtually all aspects of typeface design, drawing, punch cutting, matrix striking, etc etc, from Tolbert lanston & Otmar Merganthaler,s era, being digitised into modern specification and including, virtually all Computor generated modern applications… I met him , (the Speaker) metaphorically, in the middle, amazing conversation, we both benefited!!!
I am sure keying in the *Pencil to Pixels* link will give you the best available Info… Good Luck.

Unfortunately, the face height of some digitized versions of metal faces is very different than the original. Cloister Black comes to mind. My digital versions are all much smaller than the metal I have. If I want to approximate the size to visualize a layout in Cloister Black, I have to set the face to 14 point on the computer to equal the 12 point metal I have. It still doesn’t quite match, but it’s close. And, of course, the letterspacing is often very different since the digital version doesn’t have to worry about breaking off kerns or fitting bodies together. The designer just worries about what the printed piece (or on-screen design) looks like.

It really is going to come down to whether the designer who worked on the digitization of the face was consciously trying to match the original metal or not. Many times, it just isn’t a consideration to them.

Michael Hurley
Titivilus Press
Memphis, TN

the zoom method is what i was looking for.
i thought perhaps there was a convention for calibrating the monitor or a program that would do it so you could sketch up designs on the computer in near actual size before laying out the type.

I might be crazy, (okay many think I am), but, as trained letterpress person. When I started designing on a computer, it was easy for me, by just looking at the copy to set.

Example: Business card:

Top line, set the face 8 point

The Company name: 14 point

The lines at the bottom of card:

6 or 7 point for the address, city, state flush left

Phone number sometimes 9 point if flush right on card.

Centaur is a face that has a lot more sizes than are usually provided in metal, for example 16 and 22 point if 18 does not fit. M&H Type has these.
But body sizes can be misleading. Monotype faces originating in Europe (Spectrum for example) may be Didot point size that is cast on the next largest Ango-American point size. This is why there are designations like 30 small and 30 large.
I once compared digital Spectrum to the metal original which is Didot. But it wasn’t just a matter of finding the intermediate digital size to match metal, buit also adjusting the letterspacing, tracking it out, because digital letterfit is generally tighter.

Not sure if I understand all the question, but I have some Centaur 18 (from a monotype machine) …..