Extend the tape measure, place the hook at one end of the object, and continue extending until the tape measure covers the distance being measured. Look at the markings on the tape measure to get the length. Each inch includes markings for half-inch, quarter-inch, eighths-inch and sixteenths-inch.
Whole inches are marked with a line extending from one edge to the other with the corresponding inch number next to it. Half-inch lines are marked halfway between two inch markers and are the longest marks. The quarter-inch, eighths-inch and sixteenths-inch lines are each slightly shorter than the previous. When taking a measurement, note the closest line to read the tape measure.
Tape measures typically have feet marked with a black arrow and the corresponding number of feet at that point on the tape measure. Tape measures also usually include markings every 16 inches to easily help find studs.