How to Read A Ruler

A ruler is only simple to read if you're reading inches and half-inches. Read a ruler from 1/16th of an inch all the way up to an inch. You will be able to measure in detail after reading this article.

Instructions

    • 1

      Get out your ruler. The ruler should have small marks between each number that marks an inch. If it does not, find one that does before continuing.

    • 2

      Once you have your ruler in front of you, begin by counting the tiny marks between the numbers 1 and 2. There should be 16 marks. If you will notice, some of the marks are larger than others. The first larger mark indicates 2/16 or 1/8. Now the next mark is even larger than the 2/16 or 1/8 mark. It indicates 4/16, 2/8 or 1/4. Notice how each of these are divisible by 2 to achieve the lowest term. The 4/16 equals 2/8 when each number is divided by 2 and the 2/8 becomes 1/4 when divided by 2.

    • 3

      When measuring something, you would count how many marks past the whole number it measures, then add 16 in fraction form. Example: If you measure something and it measure 3 whole inches and 12 marks past the 3, it would be exactly 3 and 12/16, or 6/8, or 3/4 inches. Again, notice how each fraction is divided by 2 to get the next smaller number and that number is also divided by 2 to get the lowest fraction possible. Keep in mind that each small mark is 1/16 of 1 whole inch. Every second mark is 1/8 of a whole inch, every fourth mark is 1/4 of an inch, every 6 marks is 3/8 of an inch, every 8 marks is 1/2 of an inch, every 10 marks is 5/8 of an inch, every 12 marks is 3/4 of an inch and every 14 marks is 7/8 of an inch.

Tips & Warnings

  • Most rulers are marked in 16th's of an inch. Only professional measuring tapes or rulers are marked differently. But either way, you can still figure out the exact size of something simply by counting the marks between the whole numbers.

  • If something measures between one small mark and the next, always count the next mark.

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