Why do they still use dpi in metric countries?

The original question I had was whether metric countries use dpi (dots per inch) as a unit of measure. A quick look at the UK and France Epson web pages answered that and suggested they do. Which leads to… why? It seems like a rather singular exception to the “everything must be metric” attitude. Are there metric units for resolution that just aren’t being used?

Well, 300dpi turns out to be 118.1102362 dots per centimeter. That’s not a real handy number to deal with, although 300 dpi is a pretty commonly encountered number when dealing with scanners.

The manufacturers work in dpi, so it isn’t practical to go with another system. For the same reason, you can buy 3 1/2 inch floppies in Germany instead of 8.89cm floppies. It just isn’t worth the hassle.

Ah, but that’s a misconception - e.g. in the UK, distance and speed are measured in miles and mph respectively; personal weight and height are measured in stone and feet & inches; beer is measured in pints. It is slowly dying out (and a good thing in my opinion), but it’s taking its time.

I’ve run across a phenomenon shopping for jewelry-making supplies in both American and Canadian stores: beads are generally sold by their diameter in millimetres, while the thickness of beading wire and cord is given in fractions or decimals of an inch. It’s not always a problem, except when the measurement of the hole in the bead is in metric and you have to convert just to figure out what kind of wire you need.

I suspect it might be that you rarely need to convert those numbers to anything else - when is it important how many dpi you have, except that it’s more than you had before?

If everyone had to constantly calculate the number of dots on the surface of a cube with volume 10[sup]x[/sup] litres then we might want to change, but as it is its easier to go with what we already have.

I’m a whopping 420 pica tall, and an absolutely towering 5040 points tall.

Do metric countries use pica and points as well?

Not for height of people, lets put it that way.

(Sorry. We’re talking about fonts here, right? I never do much word processing, but points is standard char height here AFAIK)

Welcome to Sweden where more and more bars, at least in Stockholm, serve beer by the pint.

We have been metric for eons, since I was a kid. I will still never understand peoples weights unless they are in st and lb (no Bosda that is not leet speak :slight_smile: ) or height unless in feet and inches and please don’t tell me how many grams your baby is cause I won’t know if it is big or small… maybe I’m just thick.

What makes this even more ironic is the fact that the floppies are actually manufactured as 90mm floppies. The entire specification is metric, but for marketing reasons they are called 3[sup]1[/sup]/[sub]2[/sub]inch.

Exactly. The UK is not a “metric country”, whatever the law says. The man in the street still talks about inches, feet, yards and miles; pints; ounces, pounds and stones; degrees Fahrenheit; etc.

I still use all these units, despite being only mid-20s and therefore taught in all the metric units at school. So do people younger than me. I’d say the only ones that are really dying out, from my experience, are pounds and ounces when referring to weights of food etc - but for people, stones and pounds are almost always used. I could probably tell you how much I weigh in kilograms, but I’d have to mentally convert from pounds first

One of the things that most tickles me is the lack of understanding of the metric system in Germany - which is completely metric, except for when you buy meat from the butcher. There, is is still common to ask for things by the pound (pfund.)

I was talking to my wife one day, and was witness to a most startling revelation. I mentioned something about a kilometer and a thousand meters, and she asked me if that had anything to do with kilograms. I looked at her in full disbelief, as it soaked into her thirty year old head that the metric system is composed of base units with prefixes, and that the prefixes are the same regardless of the base unit.

I was utterly shocked. She is not stupid, and is actually a well educated person. She completed training as a doctor’s assistant, and has the equivalent (I think) of a junior college associates degree. In all her years of school, no one had ever explained the metric system to her.

I’m an American, and I understand the metric system better than she does - and better than a great many of our acquaintances do.

Somewhere, something is wonky in the German educational system if they don’t even bother to explain their system of weights and measures to the students. This possibly explains why Germany did so poorly in the PISA studies.

Of course we do. Why wouldn’t we? We also have 2"x4" wood, 2" inch nails, 3/8" screws ASF. And we have pica and points, too. The same inertia that prevents English speaking countries to switch to metric, keep going here too. It’ll fade away, eventually, but as Shade said, it’s not like we have to convert nail size to volume.

And the reason, as I have heard it, for the lumber industry to use inches is that its biggest market is USA.

And Germans buy wood in millimeter sizes that don’t match anything I know of in inches.


Japan is a “metric country” but we still use dpi and points. I haven’t seen any other units used for printer resolution and font size. I suspect the reason is that the US dominates the publishing and digital imaging industries. But then again, we use only metric paper sizes so maybe not…

That’s true, but we also have both metric and standard measurements for such things as wrenches and so forth. The hardware industry isn’t completely against the idea of metrics, anyway.

Am I the only one who got the image of a german spam about “adding millimetres to your package”?

I found this a bit hard to believe. Are you meaning that most German people you know don’t understand what a kilometre is? How do they measure distance between cities, or the length of a road trip, then? What do I know that it’d be very hard to find a Finnish person who couldn’t instantly tell their daily way to work in both kilometres and metres. Of course SI units are integral part of basic education here, so that could be the difference. In that case German education has failed, at least on some people.