Pitch (typewriter)

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Pitch is the number of characters and spaces in one inch (25.4 mm) of running text, that is, characters per inch (abbreviated cpi).[1][2] The pitch is most often used as a measurement of font size of typewriters as well as printers.

The relation between pitch font size and typographic font size (points) is usually inverse: a 12-pitch typewriter font is equal in height to 10-point typographic font, while a 10 pitch-typewriter font is equal in height to 12-point typographic font. However, this relation is not obligatory, e.g., a 12-pitch font with a smaller x-height can have the same body height as a 10-pitch font, thus creating a text with increased line spacing.[3]

The most widespread fonts in typewriters are 10 and 12 pitch, called pica and elite, respectively.[1][2][3] There may be other font styles with various width: condensed or compressed (17–20 cpi), italic or bold (10 pitch), enlarged (5–8 cpi), and so on.

In typography a similar concept is applied in the process of copyfitting:[4] a number of characters per pica (cpp), a pica being a sixth of an inch. As books are most often printed with proportional fonts, cpp of a given font is usually a fractional number. For example, an 11-point font (like Helvetica) may have 2.4 cpp,[5] thus a 5-inch (30-pica) line of a usual octavo-sized (6×8 in) book page would contain around 72 characters (including spaces).[6][7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Steward, Fist (1996). "Pitch". The Informatics Handbook: A guide to multimedia communications and broadcasting. p. 512.
  2. ^ a b Saigh, Robert A. (1998). "Pitch". The International Dictionary of Data Communications. p. 204.
  3. ^ a b Fenna, Donald (2002). A Dictionary of Weights, Measures, and Units. OUP. pp. 76, 219.
  4. ^ Pipes, Alan (2005). Production for Graphic Designers (4th ed.). Laurence King Publishing. pp. 48–49.
  5. ^ Montagnes, Ian (1991). Editing and Publication: A Training Manual. p. 343.
  6. ^ Dahl, Fred (2006). Book Production Procedures for Today's Technology (2nd ed.). Inkwell Publishing Service. p. 21.
  7. ^ Jackson, Hartley Everett (1942). Newspaper Typography, a Textbook for Journalism Classes. Stanford University Press. pp. 36–37.

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