Grid help in Fontlab

bobbygrotesk's picture

Hi guys,

I'm about to start digitizing a typeface for a designer who has never used Fontlab.

Each glyph has been drawn by hand very well on strict gridded paper.

Is there a method of applying the same paper grid to my Fontlab grid?

Thanks a lot guys!


twardoch's picture


Preferences / Glyph window / Dimensions / Grid step. View / Show Layers / Grid. View / Snap to Layers / Grid.

bobbygrotesk's picture

Thanks Twardoch,

But what I'm looking for is a method of matching the grid on the paper.

The x height on paper is a specific amount of squares tall, how do I apply the same amount of squares to my x height in fontlab?

Thanks again

twardoch's picture


first, decide what your UPM size needs to be. The UPM size corresponds to the point size of the font. The caps height and the x-height are normally fractions of the UPM size (that is, the point size). Typically, the caps height of a text font is about 70% of the UPM size, so that the flat uppercase letters such as E, when set at 10 pt, will be around 7 pt tall.

By default the UPM size is 1000 units but it can be anything between 16 and 32,000 (with extremely small or extremely large UPM sizes, you may find that FontLab Studio works a bit strange when it comes to zooming).

So let's say you want your x-height to be 12 grid squares tall, and that the x-height should be 60% of the desired point size. This means that your point size (UPM size) will correspond to 12/0.6=20 grid squares. Now you could decide to stick to the standard UPM size (1000 units) and set the grid step to 1000/20=50 units, or you could pick any UPM size that is divisible by your number of grid squares that make out the point size. So you could use the UPM size of 500 and make the grid step 25, or use the UPM size of 200 and make the grid step to be 10.

If you find out that the point size should correspond to, say, 17 grid squares, you need to set the UPM size to be easily divisible by that number, 17. So it could be 170 at the grid step of 10, or 340 at the grid step of 20, or you could make the grid step 50 and the UPM size 850 (to keep it fairly close to the default UPM size of 1000).

The reasons for sticking close to 1000, and discussion about the maximum and minimum sizes and their repercussions can be found at


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