Em Quads

I need some additional em quads for my small table top press. All I know is that they are 1/16th of an inch tall and 1/4th inch wide. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

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An em quad is square for the type size, if the letters are 1/4” (18 point) high, the em quad will be exactly that width and probably about 3/4” (54 pt) tall, give or take.

There are also fractions of that width (1/2, 1/3, 1/4, 1/5), called an en, then 3em, 4em, and 5em.

What size type are you working with?

There’s the rub. I don’t know. The set I have has only capitals, which are some 1/16th of inch in height.

Would it help matters if I attached a card I printed with the type?

From your description, it sounds like you have four point type—very tiny and not at all common. I doubt that is what you have. I have attached an image of a piece of type with the terms generally used for type dimensions. You need to know the BODY SIZE as shown on this image. If you don’t have a printers’ composing stick, measure the precise size in sixteenths of an inch. Three sixteenths of an inch is about 12 point; six sixteenths (3/8”) is 24 point, and so on. Here is a link to more description of metal type:


image: Typedimensions.jpg


I just remeasured it, and the body is 1/16th of an inch, so I guess I do have 4 point type. Thanks for the link to the page. So much too learn!

The type came with my little Marvel printing press, the chase of which measures some 2 1/2 by 3 1/2 inches, so the type size is warranted.

Should I try to find quads that size, or buy larger type?

Larger type- your eyes and fingers will thank you.

If you’re just learning get some 10-14pt type and work with that. It’s small enough that you could print something useful but not so small as to be painful to use. And it’ll be easier to learn about the press without having to fight the various problems of microtype.

You can find used type listed in the classifieds here or in ebay, and there are still commercial type foundries out there.



There are others, too, those were the quickest URLs to grab.

Ah, the joys of the Anglo-American point system, to get 4 point 2-em quadrats lay an eight point nut on its side, and similarly to get a 3-em quadrat lay a 12 point thick on its side. Assuming its really 4 point. The Monotype machines here in the UK did have a mould for casting newspaper small ads, and would you belieive that cast four and a quarter point! If its really 4 point then it would mike up to be
around 554 thousandths of an inch. .

If you decide to try practicing with some larger type I have plenty of new ATF fonts from 6PT to 10PT at very reasonable prices. Also quads and spaces for these sizes.
Some currently listed on eBay.
Check out our eBay store at:
Text or call us at 516-633-5107

You might get by using cut-off pieces of wooden matches. It would not be ideal, but it could work. Smaller spaces could be made from different thickness of paper.

You will almost certainly need something like a 10x Hastings triplet for type that small, also a pair of tweezers. I generally don’t want anything to do with type that is smaller than 12-point. 8-point is my absolute limit.

I agree with other posters; get some larger type. 4-point is for printing shady legal contracts.