How do you read a tape measure?


Quick Answer

A tape measure is an important tool for home crafting and construction projects. Once you understand how the different marks and graduations work, a tape measure can be read and understood with a quick look.

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How do you read a tape measure?
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Full Answer

  1. Learn where the feet are marked

    Pull out the tape measure to at least an arm's length so you can inspect it. Look for the 1-foot mark. It will be about the length of a man's foot from the end. The mark is often a large arrow or bold number in place of one of the tick marks or the number 12 on one side of the measuring tape. There will be a large number 1, possibly followed by Ft or F. Look for the 2-foot mark about the same length from the 1-foot and then the 3-foot.

  2. Learn how inches relate to feet

    Each foot has twelve inches. The inches are usually labeled twice on a measuring tape. On one side, they start at 1 and continue counting up, and on the other, they restart at 1 after every 12 inches (or one foot.) For example, at the 30-inch mark, the other side probably shows a 6. Because the 6 is between 2 and 3 feet, the 30-inch mark is at 2 feet 6 inches.

  3. Learn how inches are subdivided

    Each inch is marked with a long tick. Between each tick there are several smaller ticks of varying lengths. Halfway between the inch marks is a tick that represents one-half inch. Halfway between that tick and each of the inch marks is a slightly smaller tick that represents a quarter inch, and so on. The ticks get shorter as the subdivisions get smaller.

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