Linotype and Intertype slugs' dimensions

Linotype and Intertype machines differed per country. One of the differences was that the slugs they produced had different dimensions. On this page, the different dimensions are explained.

Units of measurement

The Intertype Corporation (n.d.; 1929) provided the information about the different units of measurement that are in use. Note that Intertype relied on the Linotype Points, which was a rounded number of the historical points. For clarity we added the historical points.

Em .166 2/3"
Cicero .178"
Fournier .16476"
Petit .1115"
Point [historical] .0138 1/3"
Point [Linotype] .014"
Didot .0148 1/3"
Point Fournier .01373"

Based hereupon, Intertype provides the following calculations:
The Cicero is a unit of measurement used in Europe.
A point, American system, measures .014 inches.
An em, American system, measures .1666 inches.
A point, European system, measures .0148 1/3 inches.
An em, European system, measures .178 inches.
Therefore, a 30-em slug in America would be equivalent to a 28 cicero slug in Europe.

Linotype and Intertype slugs' thickness

The slug's thickness varies depending on the type size used.

The slug's thickness.

Within the machine, the slugs are cast within the mold. How thick the space within the mold is, is determined by two liners at both sides of the mold. When an operator wanted to use a different type size, the operator had to open the machine in order to replace the liners. The point size is engraved on the liners, so no mistake can be made.

The slug's thickness equals the opening in the mold. The slug's thickness equals the liners at both sides of the mold.

The type size on the slug is expressed in different measurement systems, which differs per country:

  (1 point = approx. 0.0138 1/3 inch)     (1 point = 0.0148 inch = 0.37583 mm)  
Points   American Inch Inch     Belgian Dutch German Inch mm  
  names (Linotype) (Standard)     names names names  
5   Pearl 0.070 0.06920     0.074 1.88  
5 1/2   Agate 0.077 0.07612      
6   Nonpareil 0.084 0.08304     Nonparel Nonpareille 0.089 2.25  
7   Minion 0.098 0.09688     Colonel Kolonel 0.104 2.63  
8   Brevier 0.112 0.11072     Galjard Petit 0.119 3.00  
9   Bourgeois 0.126 0.12456     Garmond Borgis 0.133 3.38  
10   Long Primer 0.140 0.13840     Dessendiaan Korpus 0.148 3.76  
11   Small Pica 0.154 0.15224     Mediaan 11 Punkte 0.163 4.13  
12   Pica 0.168 0.16608     Cicero Augustijn Cicero 0.178 4.51  
13       13 punten 13 Punkte 0.193 4.89  
14   English 0.196 0.19376     14 punten Mittel 0.208 5.26  
16   Columbian 0.224 0.22144      
18   Great Primer 0.252 0.24912      
20   Paragon 0.280 0.27680      
24   Double Pica 0.336 0.33216      
30   Five-line Nonpareil 0.420 0.41520      
36   Double Great Primer 0.504 0.49824      

The following calculations were used:

  1. In the Netherlands, 1 point = 0.0148 inch = 0.37583 mm. The Dutch information is based on: Adams (1966), De Jong (1947).
  2. In the United States, 1 point = approx. 0.0138 1/3 inch, Linotype rounded this to 0.014 inch. The American information is based on: Intertype Corporation (n.d.; 1929), Thompson (1918).

Linotype and Intertype slugs' height

Also the lug's height was different per country.

The slug's height is measured from bottom to top.

Here are some of the documented heights:

Points Inch mm
American 23.32
Belgian 23.86
Dutch 66,125 0.979 24.85
French (/European) 62,7 0.928 23.56
English 62,03 0.918 23.31

With 1 point = 0.0148 inch = 0.37583 mm. The Dutch, French and English height are based on Adams (1996), De Jong (1947). The other heights came from a nameless source.

Keep in mind that the height of the slug is not completely determined by the thickness of the mold inside the machine. While the largest part of the slug is cast within the machine, the top of it is formed within the matrices.

The cap thickness is not the same as the slug height!


The following sources were consulted to create those tables:

  1. ADAMS, J.B.J. (1966). “Lessen machinezetten aan de Lino- en Intertype” [Courses machine setting at the Lino- and Intertype]. [by: Centrale opleidingscommissie voor het boekdrukkers- en rasterdiepdrukbedrijf].
  2. DE JONG I.C.H. (1947). Handboek voor den lino en intertypezetter [manual for the Linotype and Intertype operator].
  3. INTERTYPE CORPORATION (n.d.) Intertype Hand Book. A brief manual of instruction for users of the intertype. Brooklyn, New York.
  4. INTERTYPE CORPORATION. (1929). The Intertype. Its function, care, operation and adjustment. Brooklyn: New York.
  5. THOMPSON, J.S. (1918). The mechanism of the Linotype. The inland printer company, Chicago.

c 2022 Maarten Renckens. All rights reserved.