All of the document presets for print are defaulted to using points. I’ve always worked in inches. Is it more common to work in points? What are the advantages?

Edit: To clarify, I’m not asking about working with fonts. I’m asking about document layout. I read the answer to the other question, but it doesn’t help me understand the reason for working entirely in points.

  • 2
    For document dimensions, it doesn't really matter as long as the proper size is conveyed. I use Picas... but typically have to refer to inches for print production houses.
    – Scott
    Dec 19, 2018 at 1:18
  • I reopened this due to the narrow scope of the duplicate. I'm not convinced this question is not a duplicate of that, but I'll leave it for moderators to determine.
    – Scott
    Dec 19, 2018 at 8:10

2 Answers 2


Document presets in Illustrator are conveyed in whatever measurement system you have set as the preference.

  • If Unit Preferences are set to points, then document sizes are displayed in points.

  • If Unit Preferences are set to Inches, and document sizes are displayed in inches.

  • If Unit Preferences are set to Picas, and document sizes are displayed in picas.

  • et. al.

Illustrator >Preferences > Units... : General >

As for what is or is not "common", I don't think that's answerable here. It would take an industry-wide survey.

I work in Picas for most things, but I also have to refer to inches for production houses at times. Just a personal preference of mine to use picas. I'm constantly amazed at how some (smaller and newer) print production teams are initially mystified by seeing pica measurements.

Anywhere OTHER than the US.. you'll find millimeters way more common.

In the end it doesn't really matter as long as the proper dimensions are used. Conveying the size via different measurement systems should not alter it in any way.

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    Yes in fact if you have a image with a span and number and no unit then its assumed to be inches in US and mm everywhere else (this is how you crash mars probes). Anyway the reason adobe defaults to pt is that pt is Adobes own unit, the postscript point was defined by Adobe. And internally illustrator is computing on points.
    – joojaa
    Dec 19, 2018 at 8:56
  • @joojaa, you have a point there...
    – Joonas
    Dec 19, 2018 at 9:25
  • I think my confusion lies in the fact that Illustrator sets up all the new document presets for print to points automatically, and then I have to change it to inches in the new document dialog. My unit preferences are usually either inches or pixels, but never points. It made me think points was a more common unit of measure, and made me wonder why.
    – Tracy Fu
    Dec 29, 2018 at 19:17
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    I work in a print shop that's been in business for twenty years. I'll be honest NONE of us ever used points.... ever. We do digital, offset and large format printing. All document setups we work with are in inches.
    – Nancy
    Dec 30, 2018 at 15:28

I think it depends on the degree of precision you require for what you are doing at hand. If you're doing typography or designing a logo, it can be very beneficial to use points. I also believe it's used more often in magazine and newsprint where it's important or required to set certain spacing for letters, columns, margins, etc. in more precise and smaller units of measurement.

If you're doing more general printing (posters, brochures, postcards, business cards, etc), you're not going to see many printers discuss document setups in terms of "points" or "picas." They'll talk to you in inches. They'll give you templates setup in inches.

There's no wrong way to go on about it, though. If you choose to not work in inches, just be prepared to convert to inches in certain situations though.

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