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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Setting Units & Rulers Preferences

You can specify units for rulers two different ways in Photoshop. Whenever you press Ctrl(Command)+R, rulers pop up to the left and top of the document window. Besides enabling you to measure things, the rulers are the only interface elements that enable you to drag guides from them (which means that if you need to place a guide, you need the rulers visible). The Units & Rulers Preferences page is shown in Figure 3.13.


Units & Rulers Preferences To go directly to the Units & Rulers Preferences page, press Ctrl()+R to display the rulers, and then double-click on a ruler.

The Units area of the Units & Rulers Preferences dialog box includes settings that determine the Ruler and Type measurement units your screen will display. In the Rulers drop-down list, we suggest that you specify Pixels (unless you work somewhere that uses centimeters or picas), and choose Points for Type (and every once in a while picas). As you can see in Figure 3.13, you also can set the rulers to inches on the Info palette (press F8 if it's not already visible). A plus sign appears in the lower-left area of the Info palette, and if you click on it, a context menu allows you to quickly change the measurement increments.

Figure 3.13Figure 3.13 Make choices that make sense to your working methodology in the Units & Rulers Preferences dialog box.

In Figure 3.14, pixels have been chosen as the units of measurement. Every command that uses units of measurement, such as the Canvas Size command shown here, displays image attributes in pixels.

Why pixels and not inches for the rulers? Pixels are an absolute measurement, but inches depend on the resolution of the image file.

The settings in the Column Size area are for desktop publishing. You might change these settings, for example, when your client needs a photo that runs across the gutter or simply fits in one column. The gutter is set to inch values here although Photoshop ships with the default measurement of picas. We put these values in because they are the column and gutter width settings for a default PageMaker page. Hey, why not? For best results, get the specs from your client before goofing with the column and gutter distances.

Photoshop gives you the option of saving print and display settings you want to apply to all the images you create. You make these choices in the New Document Preset Resolutions area. Here, you can choose the print and screen resolution at which the image is printed and displayed. Here are our recommendations for these settings:

Figure 3.14Figure 3.14 Your clients will give you "exotic" units of measurement. Trust us—you're equipped to handle that with the Units & Rulers Preferences dialog box.

  • Print Resolution. The default for printing, 300ppi (pixels per inch, not dots per inch), is fanciful. Later in this book, we'll cover commercial printing and the math behind it. A coffee table book, a luxurious item, is printed at about 2,540 dots per inch. This translates to 266 pixels per inch for a 1-to-1 printing. Using 300 pixels per inch is too large a capture for most Photoshop users' needs.

  • Screen Resolution. Although some Windows products, and Windows itself, set screen resolution at 96 pixels per inch, this is not the commonly adopted standard. It's 72 pixels per inch (which, comfortably, is the same measurement as a typeface point—72 per inch). Leave this setting at 72.

In the Point/Pica Size area, the PostScript (72 points/inch) setting should be checked. We are creating electronic documents and using PostScript technology in Photoshop, so the Traditional (72.27 points/inch) standard is not of use to us.

What do you say we check out the Guides, Grid & Slices Preferences next?

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