Fan of creative technology, elearning, instructional design and a little geeky

A matter of points…

I’m analysing some InDesign files for a customer presently, and upon opening one of the files in InDesign the following dialog appeared. “This document’s setting for points/picas per inch differs from the current application setting. To change the document’s points/pica per inch setting, go to the Units & Increments panel in the Preferences dialog box”.


In all honesty it wasn’t a Warning dialog I had ever encountered before.

Basically it means that in the Units & Increments section of the InDesign Preferences dialog, the points/pica size reference was changed from the default “PostScript (72 pts/inch)” to “Traditional (72.27 pts/inch)“.


This particular preference setting was introduced in InDesign CS2, possibly for the reason of giving the “Traditionalist” the choice to stick to their old measurement systems. Changing the setting back to the default “PostScript” will likely result in seeing some very irregular point-sizes 🙂

As someone who’s gone through conversion from conventional typesetting systems to Desktop Publishing based on PostScript ‘points’ (yes, I am THAT old!), I remember that our first conversions of publications from typesetting systems to our then desktop application (QuarkXPress) caused some pain in getting the point sizes/leading right.

Especially where conversion was for the purpose of reprint. The text sizing, leading etc. needed to resemble the original as closely as possible. The original jobs were set using Didot points and originated from our Berthold typesetting system. The Didot points (12 points in a Cicero), was a point system based on the “pie de roi” and French inches. Hermann Berthold adopted this system and adapted it to the metric system later on.

Basically I remember us continuously setting small print samples at various sizes, making tiny size adjustments and then comparing the printouts with type set in the previous system.   Newer jobs  (and I’m talking about the late 1980s), would adopt the new point system and over a period of some years this difficult conversion process was gradually phased out and we were traditionalists no more…

This really makes me wonder why in 2009 I would be opening an InDesign file that has the points/pica size settings changed to “Traditional”… I dare not ask!

Similar posts
  • Adobe InDesign and XML: A Reference Guide The following is a reference guide I have compiled over time for those of you who are looking at doing a little more with XML in InDesign (originally published Feb. 2011, last updated Feb 2018). If you have any extra information you’d like to see added to this guide, feel free to message me. Mapping XML tags to InDesign [...]
  • How to change the colour of bullet points in InDesig... A few weeks ago I recorded a short quick tip tutorial. InDesign’s Control panel, gives users a quick and easy way to format text as a bulleted list. Highlight the text, and click the Bulleted List button in the Paragraph Formatting Controls mode for the Control panel. This applies a universal bullet character as the [...]
  • Creating a pop-up window in a PDF with Adobe InDesig... In the following YouTube tutorial, we’ll create an interactive PDF from Adobe InDesign, in which we click on a button, which in turn opens up a simple pop-up window containing a close-box. When the close-box is clicked the pop-up window disappears [...]
  • InDesign: Facing pages with odd-numbered left pages Back in 2004 I wrote a tip for InDesign CS on how you could have the first page of your document be a left page AND have it start with page number 1. It’s hard to believe this is almost a decade ago… But a recent question on Facebook, made me think I should really [...]
  • Negative Lookbehind – GREP for Designers This is the fourth and final blog-posts in a series of posts on lookaheads and lookbehinds in GREP, written after speaking at the Perth InDesign User Group. My speaker notes are also available: What is GREP? (PDF download) (2.4Mb). In the previous three posts I briefly introduced GREP, and we took a look at Positive [...]


  1. October 6, 2011    

    Hi Kimberly.
    Ha, so the error still pops up in 2011. Wow. That is amazing 🙂 Yup kids today no longer know what floppy disks are 😉 A little nostalgia pops up thinking about that 🙂

  2. September 26, 2011    

    Cari, Thank you for explaining this InDesign “error” message. Now, I understand how to fix it…
    I, too, learned my type setting using points and picas. Computer desktop publishing was in it’s infant stages while I was in school in the late 80’s – early 90’s when we carried around the actual programs on REAL floppy disks!
    Ahhh, the memories of point/pica conversion!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *