Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Word 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Word, click here: Understanding Point Sizes.

Understanding Point Sizes

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated February 28, 2015)

1

A point is a typographical term for a unit of measure. It is roughly equivalent to 1/72 of an inch. Points are understood and used extensively by everyone in the publishing trade, particularly in design, typesetting, and printing. They are most commonly used with type specifications. Word uses point sizes to specify the height of all the fonts it uses. Thus, when you use a 12-point type, you are using one that occupies a character box approximately 12/72 (or 1/6) of an inch high. Likewise, 72-point type uses a character box that is about one inch tall.

In typesetting, points are also the measurement of choice when specifying line leading (as discussed in the next tip). It is not uncommon to specify type in the format 10/12, meaning 10-point type on 12-point line leading.

If you are familiar with points, you can use them as a standard measurement in Word. When entering a measurement in points, simply use the characters pt at the end of the measurement. Alternately, you can set your default measurement to points by choosing Options from the Tools menu, then clicking on the General tab and changing the Measurement Units selection to Points.

Remember that points, in Word, are approximate values. Whereas Word considers a point equal to 1/72 of an inch, in professional typography a point is equal to 1/72.27 of an inch. This may not sound like much of a difference, but if you are dealing with a large number of points the "error" can accumulate and make Word unsuitable for some purposes, especially exacting typesetting work.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (161) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Word (Word 2007 and later) here: Understanding Point Sizes.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Getting a Count of Unique Names

When you've got a column full of names, you may want to get a count of how many of those names are unique. You can make quick ...

Discover More

Controlling Sorting Order

When you sort information either in a table or the body of you document, Word follows a very specific set of rules to do the ...

Discover More

Setting a Default Date Format

Enter a date into a cell, and Excel allows you to format that date in a variety of ways. Don't see the date format you want? ...

Discover More

Comprehensive VBA Guide Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) is the language used for writing macros in all Office programs. This complete guide shows both professionals and novices how to master VBA in order to customize the entire Office suite for their needs. Check out Mastering VBA for Office 2010 today!

More WordTips (menu)

Font Substitution Problems

When your document uses fonts that are not available on your computer system, Word substitutes other fonts that it feels are ...

Discover More

Formatted Merging

When you use the mail-merge capabilities of Word, the information merged takes on the formatting of your source document, not ...

Discover More

The Standard on the Ruler

Need to know all there is to know about the Ruler? This tip leads to a valuable Word MVP article on the subject.

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 3 + 4?

2016-02-03 10:04:28

Mashaylia Williams

I understand clearly its just how is the point size founded in a Microsoft document?


This Site

Got a version of Word that uses the menu interface (Word 97, Word 2000, Word 2002, or Word 2003)? This site is for you! If you use a later version of Word, visit our WordTips site focusing on the ribbon interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.