Join Nigel French for an in-depth discussion in this video Measurement tips: Five reasons you should use points, part of Type Tips Weekly.
- [Instructor] In this week's type tip I have some interesting information about the measurement system. Some of this stuff, if you a seasoned In Design user, you will doubtless know. But even for advanced users, I think there is gonna be some interesting stuff here. Firstly we have a number of different supported measurement systems, millimeters, centimeters, picas, points, inches and some other rather obscure ones like ciceros and agates.
How do we switch between them? Well we can do that in our preferences, units and increments right here. Windows users you will find your preferences at the bottom of the edit menu. But rather than go to the preferences, which incidentally you could get to with a keyboard shortcut, command K, but rather than do that, the easiest way is perhaps to right click at the intersection of the rulers and you can change the units right there.
And if you're like me, you will find yourself hopping back and forth between points, inches and millimeters. Although most of the time, I prefer to be in points. And I'll explain why in a moment. It is possible to set the unit on the horizontal ruler independently of that on the vertical ruler. Although that's apt to cause confusion. So if we wanna set them both together, right click at the intersection of the rulers.
There is also a very useful keyboard shortcut that will cycle you through the measurement systems, command, option, shift or control, alt, shift, U. And you can see that as I'm pressing that, the ruler is changing. Let me switch back to points. If you want to set a measurement system as being the application default as opposed to being the document default, then make these changes when you have no In Design document open and that will become the default unit measurement thereafter.
So it's very possible to mix your units of measurements and to do simple calculations within In Design's fields. So for example, if I select this square, I'm currently in points but I might be thinking, well I would like to move that 20 millimeters to the right. Well I could just come to my X value and type plus 20. Now if I'm not specific, that will be 20 points.
But I can type in mm after that and 20 millimeters is converted to its point equivalent. Wherever you have a measurement field either on the control panel or in any of the dialog boxes, you can do simple calculations, addition, subtraction, multiplication using the asterisk key. So if I wanted this to be twice the width and first of all I will set the reference point because this is the point from which the scaling will take place.
If I wanted it to be twice the width, I could type in asterisk two. And since I did not have my constrained proportions on, that affected only the width. If you want to do division, then you need a slash. So if I want to divide that by three, I can do that. And when you're changing these measurements, it is the reference point that determines what part of the object is locked down. You can also make these changes with type.
So if I want to select this piece of type and I just wanna go 10 points bigger, I could type plus 10 or I could even, let's say I wanna go to 200% of its size, I could highlight the current size and type in 200%. So I've mentioned that I prefer points. Why, five reasons I prefer points. And I recommend that you switch to points as your principle measurement system.
Number one, type size is always measured in points. When we're talking about type on a page, it's always points. If you're a sign painter, maybe you're talking in inches or in centimeters. But on a page it's points. Now you may be thinking well what about on a screen. Isn't it pixels? Well yes it is pixels. But one pixel equals one point. So you can leave it in points or if you want, you can switch to pixels and that will jus say PX as opposed to PT.
Second reason, leading. When we're talking about print on a page, we're talking about leading, not interline spacing or line spacing as it is referred to on screen and that is always specified in points. Now on screen it might be as opposed to 14 points 1.4 M but it's still equates to the type size in the same way. And because leading is expressed in points, we want other vertical spacing expressed in points.
Specifically paragraph space before and after. So if I zoom in here and we see that this text has no space between the paragraphs. Now I'm going to select it. Actually I'm going to select it as a frame just so that we can see more clearly what's happening here. So because I have it selected as a frame, I'm gonna need to access my paragraph panel.
And this is gonna affect all of the type in the frame and that's in this case what I want. I need to add some spacing between the paragraphs. I have 14 point leading so I know that if I want a whole line space that's 14 points. Or if I want a half line space, seven points. And that way I can be sure that at least with every other paragraph, the baselines are going to come into sync with each other because we are basing into paragraph spacing upon our leading value.
Whereas if you say instead of expressing it in points, say well we'll have three millimeters, it's a similar value but it's gonna throw things out of sync with the baselines of your type. Reason number four for having our measurement system in points, if we are differentiating in our paragraphs not with paragraph spacing but instead with first line indents, then we want this also to equate to our point size or to our leading value.
So we don't want this to be an arbitrary measurement. Typically it is going to be one M space. One M space is the size of your type. The size of my type here is 10 points. If I wanted a larger first line indent, I could express that as my leading value, 14 points. So it's important that we have these spacing values relating to each other. And the fifth reason for using points is that if you are using stroke weights, then stroke weights are always expressed in points.
Now this is not to say that you can't mix it up. And mixing it up is completely fine and sometimes it just makes more sense to think of, especially objects in terms of millimeters or inches. So if I just see this frame and I think yes, I need that to be five inches, then I can come in here and type in five IN and that's what I get. Just a couple of other things about our measurements.
So we've seen how when we choose a unit of measurement it is reflected in the ruler. Some things about the ruler. Currently I have a zero in the middle. That's because I'm using a facing page's spread and if I right click on the ruler, we see that I have the ruler on the spine. So this means that my positive values for the right hand page go from left to right, and for the left hand page go from right to left.
So if I move this rectangle on to the left hand page and choose the top right as its reference point, we see that because I have 36 point inside margin, it's X value is minus 36. If I change my ruler to per page, then my X value currently reflecting the top right of this selected object is now measured from the left hand side of the left page.
And the third option is I can choose to have a ruler per spread in which case the ruler continues across, in this case the two pages, but it could be more, however many pages I have in my spread. The coordinates are take from the zero point which unless you change it, will be the top left hand corner of the page. But you can change it. For example, you might want to be measuring from the center of the page or maybe from the top margin.
To change the zero point click and hold down and drag, and as I do so, you can see that the ruler changes so too do the coordinates. To reset the zero point, double click at the top left. And if you want to prevent that from happening, you can if you wish lock the zero point. So those then are some useful tips for you when working with your measurements and doing calculations within In Design.
Note: Because this is an ongoing series, viewers will not receive a certificate of completion.