A 1/32 tape measure can be read by counting how many marks short of a full inch a given length is. For example, if a given length is 8 marks on a 1/32 tape measure, it would be 8/32 inches, which can be reduced to 1/4 inch.
The advantage of a 1/32 tape measure is that it can give much more precise measurements. The disadvantage is that it can be harder to read and requires a basic understanding of how to reduce fractions to their simplest expressions; for example, knowing that 16/32 is equal to 8/16, 4/8 and ultimately 1/2. One task where it is useful to have a 1/32 tape measure is for measuring stairs; if stair risers are off by even 1/16 of an inch, this error is compounded over the number of steps and makes the entire stairway too tall or short.