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Is there a better ruler out there?
Answered by Jay Nelson, Editor and Publisher, Design Tools Monthly

We have old E-scales and other graphic arts rulers floating all around our studio and would like to get some new ones. Have there been any improvements in these devices of which we should be aware?

Maybe… depending on how old they are, they could actually be incorrect when measuring points and picas. When the design world went digital, the "point" was redefined as exactly 1/72 of an inch. Before that, it was slightly smaller (0.35270 mm vs. 0.35136 mm). The result is that old rulers will give an incorrect measurement in points and picas for desktop publishing uses -- especially when measuring longer items.

The rulers you have were probably made by a company such as C-Thru or Schaedler. They still make their rulers for measuring type size, leading, line width, screen density, etc. You can get them for about $4 at such online retailers as,,, and

But if you want to go deluxe, consider Galaxy Gauge, a ruler designed by and for graphic designers. Its 18-inch frosted mylar length includes all the features you expect, plus some incredibly useful surprises. It shows the 18 most common proofreading marks, with explanations and examples. It has tables that convert Fractions to Decimals, show Download Times for files, and show file sizes for various Scan Sizes and resolutions.

Its Circles & Corners tool helps you determine the correct radius for a circle or the corner radius for a rounded rectangle, while its Angles gauge measures angles to within one degree.

Its Leading scale lets you exactly match line spacing from a printed sample, while its Serif and Sans-Serif "E" scale lets you match a printed sample's font size. A Screen Finder lets you easily determine the line screen of a printed image, while a Screen Density scale helps you visualize various grayscale tints if they were printed at 65, 85, 100, 133 and 150 lpi.

It shows Bullets and Rules in all their common sizes. And, of course, it measures in Inches, Points, Picas, Millimeters and Centimeters.

The Galaxy Gauge is available in an 18-inch length for $14.95, and a 12-inch length for $10.95 at I keep one hanging next to my desk -- it's the only measuring device I need.

This question was answered by Jay Nelson, Publisher & Editor, Design Tools Monthly. We love DTM's tips and advice and think you will, too. For a free sample PRINTED issue, contact Design Tools Monthly at 303-543-8400, e-mail, or go to their website:

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