I am pretty new to InDesign. I have set my scale to measure in inches. Today I had an actual physical-ruler (like the one image below) lying around so I picked it up and compared it with the scale on screen in InDesign.

enter image description here

To my surprise, I found a difference. Note that there are 16 points/stops that makes an inch. On comparison, I found the on-screen-scale to be one point shorter than an actual physical-ruler. I assume it is not supposed to be like this, what am I missing ? I have my document size view set to actual (Ctrl + 1).

UPDATE - Seems like I was missing the obvious concept, that the measurement in a software is just a simulation and are dependent on the resolution of the device they are used in.

I also got some very useful insights in this Photoshop article on View Print Size. Unlike InDesign, Photoshop has a menu named "Print Size" that can be used to get an almost accurate (It worked for me) size simulation provided you have a similar setting (again depends on your screen size and resolution).

Preference > Units&Rulers > New-doc-presolutions > ScreenRes. > 100 pixels/inch

  • Sorry, how is this design related?
    – Scott
    Commented Jan 27, 2015 at 6:45
  • 1
    If I am wrong with my basic measurements in indesign, my entire design workflow is affected. This is a technical aspect of design, hence it is design related.
    – gurung
    Commented Jan 27, 2015 at 6:50
  • I can understand that thought process. However, how to change an application, alter it's configuration, and troubleshoot issues with the application are all not design related. You need to ask the application manufacturer for Technical Support issues.
    – Scott
    Commented Jan 27, 2015 at 7:03
  • Good Sir. I understand that my question is a little odd or may be a little noobish, I am just trying to understand if this is normal and does not make a difference in the real world. Thanks for dropping by.
    – gurung
    Commented Jan 27, 2015 at 7:04

1 Answer 1


Simply put the computer has no idea how big your screen is. 100% zoom does not really mean anything meaningful*. You can tell the computer how big your monitor actually is but this is a bit unreliable and has some side effects in other software.

So simply the computer is showing how big the relative ruler is. There is also no guarantee that the printer is calibrated correctly.There's also no guarantees that the pipeline is respecting your scaling settings. So you should measure your print. Nothing exactly new.

*Unless you make pixel based graphics for screens. Still no measure what it looks like on another screen. Pixel based things have NO inherent size in inches.

TL;DR What you see on screen does not need to reflect physical size, its still correct in relative terms.


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