How to Read a 1/8 Ruler

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If you have a 1/8-inch ruler that you are not familiar with -- or if you have a child who is trying to learn how to read a ruler -- then getting oriented with the basics of the ruler is essential. Reading a 1/8-inch ruler can be tricky, but you will have to understand the different parts and definitions of a ruler first. Practice your knowledge by measuring the lengths of a variety of flat items -- such as a piece of string or a piece of paper.

  • Examine your ruler and take note of its attributes. You will notice numbers from 1 to 12, which represent inches. In between the numbers you will see seven small, vertical dashes. Each of the dashes represents 1/8 of an inch.

  • Place a sheet of computer paper horizontally on your flat work space. Place the ruler flush against the bottom of the paper.

  • Determine the number that is closest to the edge of the piece of paper without going past the paper's edge. This will be your starting inch mark. For example, you might notice that the paper measures closes to the 8-inch mark.

  • Count the dashes from the 8-inch mark to the edge of the paper. For example, if you count four dashes and each dash is worth 1/8 on an inch, then you have 4/8. Reduced, this equals 1/2. Therefore your paper is 8 1/2 inches long.

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