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How to Read a Tape Measure

Aastha Dogra Nov 4, 2018
Learning to read a tape measure is a very useful skill, which can come in handy for many tasks which require the measurements of various objects. Know how to read a tape measure with this step by step guide.
A tape measure is a very useful tool for measuring the dimensions of a number of things, like clothes, rooms, furniture, the length and width of a person, etc. It is highly valuable for students when they are working on school or college projects.
In order to get accurate measurements, it is very important to understand what the different numbers and lines on the tape stand for.

Reading a Measuring Tape

Before learning this, it is very important to understand the units of measurement. The tape is divided into a number of feet, and twelve inches make one foot. One inch, is further divided into sixteen parts, which are depicted by sixteen lines in between two whole numbers.
So if a measurement reads 2' 8-5/16'', it has to be read as "two feet, eight and five sixteenths inches". Confused? Let's look at the procedure in detail.

Step 1

You can start by drawing a straight line on a plain paper. Mark a point on this line, which you will measure. Next, place the tape on the line.

Step 2

Now, look for a whole number on the measuring tape, that is nearest to the mark that you want to measure. Remember to look for the number, which is before the mark, and not the one after it.
For example, if the mark falls in between six and seven, you will read six and not seven. So, if the mark is reading six, that means that the length of the line till that point is six inches and "some more".

Step 3

Now let's learn how to determine this "some more". If the mark you have made on the line falls exactly on six, it means that the length of the line is six inches. But if the mark is a little ahead of the whole number six, in that case, you need to count the sub divisions of the inch too.
So, you will have to count the number of lines that falls between the whole number six and the mark. In this case, the whole number is six and if the number of lines between this number and the mark to be measured is four, the length of the line till the mark will be read as "six and four sixteenths" inches.

Step 4

The fraction "four sixteenths" can be further simplified as "one-fourth". As the measurement should always be presented in the most simplified forms, so, in this case, the reading would be "six and one-fourth" inches.
It is very simple and does not require more than a few minutes to understand it. You may however, practice a few more times by following the given procedure till you become perfect in reading the measuring tape. Best of luck!