I had a conversation with a fellow sign-maker recently that turned into a battle of wits. It was fun. No harm, no foul. We were both trying to convince the other of whether width or height comes first in the world of 2D measurements.

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Thus, the inspiration for this article.

Whether you’re into a building project and ordering windows, or designing the perfect tradeshow exhibit, providing accurate measurements is mandatory.

However, the one thing that plagues the world of measurements is orientation.

Let’s take an 8 foot by 4 foot banner. Which way is it oriented? Landscape or Portrait? Tall or wide? Is that measured east to west, or north to south? There are many approaches to resolving references to orientation. But what indicators are there that will set your perspective in stone? What is the standard?

What comes first?

The Graphics’ industry standard is width by height (width x height). Meaning that when you write your measurements, you write them from your point of view, beginning with the width.

That’s important. When you give us instructions to create an 8×4 foot banner, we’ll design a banner for you that is wide, not tall.

So, who says width by height is “The Standard”? I can break it out by layout programs such as Quark, Photoshop, Illustrator, or Indesign. They all use the width by height in order to determine orientation. But, let’s take it down to a more natural level. Which way do you read (assuming you read English literature)? Left to right, first, then down the length of the page.

See more: What Does A Capacity Plate Indicate, Boat Capacities

Not proof enough? Leave a comment. Let’s hear your opinion.

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Tommy MinahanJanuary 26, 2017
9:23 pm

I know this topic is old, but I wanted to give my perspective on why it should be WxH.In mathematics your always taught X by Y. It’s always horizontal by vertical. Even with geographical coordinates it’s latitude by longitude.I also saw a comment about how photos are always height x width-But that’s just bad assuming.If I gave you a 4×6 photo, you shouldn’t automatically assume it’s a landscape. 4×6 could clearly be width by height depending on how you hold the photo!

So, basically in every field the majority is width by height.. and someone needs to have a talk with the smithsonian!


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