How Do You Read a Caliper and Micrometer?


Quick Answer

Read a caliper by determining the whole number and the first decimal place using the main scale and the second decimal reading from the Vernier scale. Read a micrometer by adding the reading from the thimble to the reading from the sleeve. Vernier calipers measure in centimeters and are accurate to two decimal points, while micrometers measure in millimeters and are accurate to three decimal points. For an accurate measurement from either device, account for any zero error.

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Full Answer

Use the Vernier caliper by sliding the appropriate set of jaws against the material you are measuring. Locate the zero on the Vernier scale, and read the number on the main scale directly to the left of the zero point. There are 10 divisions between each of the numbers on the main scale, and each division is set at 0.1 centimeters apart. Read the Vernier scale by determining the mark that aligns most closely to a mark on the main scale for the hundredths value.

There are four marks between each number on the micrometer scale. Each mark represents 0.25 millimeters. As you turn the thimble to tighten the micrometer it covers the marks that are larger than the reading. Read the measurement to the nearest quarter millimeter from the sleeve. The thimble has 25 marks. Determine the thimble reading that is closest to the line on the sleeve, and add it to the initial reading.

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