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Old 09-02-2009, 02:06 PM   #1
Michael Rowley
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Ipswich (the one in England)
Posts: 5,105
Default Using font metrics

I have been thinking about the lack of use we make of font metrics, particularly in connexion with Brogan's suggestion in 1983 that we should use the x-height of a font to compare the 'size' of fonts. Brogan's point was that conventional body sizes of fonts did not give much indication of the height of most of the l.c. letters.

But how do we find to relation between the x-height of a font and its body size? In Brogan's time, a large proportion of printers were using photocomposition, and the 'body size' of a type was purely imaginary, but in electronic typesetting the equivalent of the body size is as important as it was in the age of metal types; so the answer is that the x-height is a fixed proportion of the body size, and this proportion is found in every font's metrics. For example, the relative body size of Arial Roman is 2048/1062 times its x-height, which is better expressed as 1.9284 its x-height.

If this is known, it is easy to find the body size for every given x-height—regardless of whether the x-height is expressed in points (USA only) or in milimetres (for everyone else).

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