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Obtaining Font Metrics

The FontFamily class provides the following methods that retrieve various metrics for a particular family/style combination:

  • GetEmHeight(FontStyle)
  • GetCellAscent(FontStyle)
  • GetCellDescent(FontStyle)
  • GetLineSpacing(FontStyle)

The numbers returned by these methods are in font design units, so they are independent of the size and units of a particular Font object.

The following illustration shows the various metrics.

The following example displays the metrics for the regular style of the Arial font family. The code also creates a Font object (based on the Arial family) with size 16 pixels and displays the metrics (in pixels) for that particular Font object.

Dim infoString As String = "" ' enough space for one line of output
Dim ascent As Integer ' font family ascent in design units
Dim ascentPixel As Single ' ascent converted to pixels
Dim descent As Integer ' font family descent in design units
Dim descentPixel As Single ' descent converted to pixels
Dim lineSpacing As Integer ' font family line spacing in design units
Dim lineSpacingPixel As Single ' line spacing converted to pixels
Dim fontFamily As New FontFamily("Arial")
Dim font As New Font( _
   fontFamily, _
   16, _
   FontStyle.Regular, _
   GraphicsUnit.Pixel)
Dim pointF As New PointF(10, 10)
Dim solidBrush As New SolidBrush(Color.Black)
 
' Display the font size in pixels.
infoString = "font.Size returns " + font.Size + "."
e.Graphics.DrawString(infoString, font, solidBrush, pointF)
      
' Move down one line.
pointF.Y += font.Height

' Display the font family em height in design units.
infoString = "fontFamily.GetEmHeight() returns " + _
   fontFamily.GetEmHeight(FontStyle.Regular) + "."
e.Graphics.DrawString(infoString, font, solidBrush, pointF)
      
' Move down two lines.
pointF.Y += 2 * font.Height

' Display the ascent in design units and pixels.
ascent = fontFamily.GetCellAscent(FontStyle.Regular)
     
' 14.484375 = 16.0 * 1854 / 2048
ascentPixel = _
   font.Size * ascent / fontFamily.GetEmHeight(FontStyle.Regular)
infoString = "The ascent is " + ascent + " design units, " + ascentPixel _
   + " pixels."
e.Graphics.DrawString(infoString, font, solidBrush, pointF)
      
' Move down one line.
pointF.Y += font.Height

' Display the descent in design units and pixels.
descent = fontFamily.GetCellDescent(FontStyle.Regular)
      
' 3.390625 = 16.0 * 434 / 2048
descentPixel = _
   font.Size * descent / fontFamily.GetEmHeight(FontStyle.Regular)
infoString = "The descent is " + descent + " design units, " + _
   descentPixel + " pixels."
e.Graphics.DrawString(infoString, font, solidBrush, pointF)
      
' Move down one line.
pointF.Y += font.Height
      
' Display the line spacing in design units and pixels.
lineSpacing = fontFamily.GetLineSpacing(FontStyle.Regular)
      
' 18.398438 = 16.0 * 2355 / 2048
lineSpacingPixel = _
   font.Size * lineSpacing / fontFamily.GetEmHeight(FontStyle.Regular)
infoString = "The line spacing is " + lineSpacing + " design units, " + _
   lineSpacingPixel + " pixels."
e.Graphics.DrawString(infoString, font, solidBrush, pointF)
[C#]
string infoString = "";  // enough space for one line of output
int  ascent;             // font family ascent in design units
float  ascentPixel;      // ascent converted to pixels
int  descent;            // font family descent in design units
float  descentPixel;     // descent converted to pixels
int  lineSpacing;        // font family line spacing in design units
float  lineSpacingPixel; // line spacing converted to pixels

FontFamily fontFamily = new FontFamily("Arial");
Font font = new Font(
   fontFamily,
   16, FontStyle.Regular,
   GraphicsUnit.Pixel);
PointF pointF = new PointF(10, 10);
SolidBrush   solidBrush = new SolidBrush(Color.Black);

// Display the font size in pixels.
infoString = "font.Size returns " + font.Size + ".";
e.Graphics.DrawString(infoString, font, solidBrush, pointF);

// Move down one line.
pointF.Y += font.Height;

// Display the font family em height in design units.
infoString = "fontFamily.GetEmHeight() returns " +
   fontFamily.GetEmHeight(FontStyle.Regular) + ".";
e.Graphics.DrawString(infoString, font, solidBrush, pointF);

// Move down two lines.
pointF.Y += 2 * font.Height;

// Display the ascent in design units and pixels.
ascent = fontFamily.GetCellAscent(FontStyle.Regular);

// 14.484375 = 16.0 * 1854 / 2048
ascentPixel = 
   font.Size * ascent / fontFamily.GetEmHeight(FontStyle.Regular);
infoString =  "The ascent is " + ascent + " design units, " + ascentPixel + 
   " pixels.";
e.Graphics.DrawString(infoString, font, solidBrush, pointF);

// Move down one line.
pointF.Y += font.Height;

// Display the descent in design units and pixels.
descent = fontFamily.GetCellDescent(FontStyle.Regular);

// 3.390625 = 16.0 * 434 / 2048
descentPixel = 
   font.Size * descent / fontFamily.GetEmHeight(FontStyle.Regular);
infoString = "The descent is " + descent + " design units, " +
   descentPixel + " pixels.";
e.Graphics.DrawString(infoString, font, solidBrush, pointF);

// Move down one line.
pointF.Y += font.Height;

// Display the line spacing in design units and pixels.
lineSpacing = fontFamily.GetLineSpacing(FontStyle.Regular);

// 18.398438 = 16.0 * 2355 / 2048
lineSpacingPixel = 
font.Size * lineSpacing / fontFamily.GetEmHeight(FontStyle.Regular);
infoString = "The line spacing is " + lineSpacing + " design units, " +
   lineSpacingPixel + " pixels.";
e.Graphics.DrawString(infoString, font, solidBrush, pointF);

The following illustration shows the output of the preceding code.

Note the first two lines of output in the preceding illustration. The Font object returns a size of 16, and the FontFamily object returns an em height of 2,048. These two numbers (16 and 2,048) are the key to converting between font design units and the units (in this case pixels) of the Font object.

For example, you can convert the ascent from design units to pixels as follows:

The preceding code positions text vertically by setting the Y data member of a PointF object. The y-coordinate is increased by font.Height for each new line of text. The Height property of a Font object returns the line spacing (in pixels) for that particular Font object. In this example, the number returned by Height is 19. Note that this is the same as the number (rounded up to an integer) obtained by converting the line spacing metric to pixels.

Note that the em height (also called size or em size) is not the sum of the ascent and the descent. The sum of the ascent and the descent is called the cell height. The cell height minus the internal leading is equal to the em height. The cell height plus the external leading is equal to the line spacing.

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