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Are Picas the Same as Inches?

No, they aren't the same but there are surprising similarities between the two. Though the design industry has changed dramatically with the advent of the computer age, picas and points are here to stay. Could you really envision everyone switching over how they describe font sizes, rule widths or leading? Not likely at this point.

Actually, once you get familiar with them, they're not very hard to understand at all. Just as there are 12 inches in a foot, there are 12 points in a pica. That's easy enough to remember. So, how big is a pica? Well, there's actually 6 picas in an inch. It's based on multiples of six, just like our own standard measuring. So, if there's 12 points in a pica and 6 picas in an inch, how many points in an inch? Let's see, 12 x 6 =72. There's 72 points in an inch.

Though pretty useless in everyday life, there are times when this information can be quite valuable. If a designer wants to divide an 11" sheet into three equal sections, how big would each section be? I'm sure you're not the only one reaching for a calculator. But, if I told you there were 66 picas in 11 inches, I'm sure you could tell me that each section would measure 22 picas. Pretty simple, huh?

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