How To Read A Tape Measure
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How To Read A Tape Measure

by TimJones on March 19, 2010

DIY home improvement projects require accurate measurements.  Whether measuring an opening, the length of a board to cut, or an area for material ordering; the importance of an accurate measurement plays a role.

To get an accurate measurement, it all starts with reading your tape measure, properly.

Tape measures often come with a “cheater” now that shows the various increments of a measurement in their fraction form.  However, not all tape measures have this cheater feature, so we need to know how to properly read a tape measure for our DIY projects.

All tape measures break down a full inch measurement into smaller segments, usually four.  The smallest segment is generally 1/16 of an inch, next is 1/8″, then 1/4″, finally 1/2″.Each of these hash marks represents a smaller portion of the full inch measurement.  Although the 1/8″ hash mark represents 1/8″, it also represents 2/16″ (equal to 1/8″).  Therefore, that smaller hash mark to the right of the 1/8″ mark is equal to 3/16″.


1/16″ Mark

1/8″ Mark

1/4″ Mark

1/2″ Mark


You always want to measure to the smallest possible hash mark for maximum accuracy.  Therefore, if you can measure to a 1/16″ hash mark, this is the measurement you want to take.  If you can only get to an 1/8″ measurement, go with that measurement.  Clear as mud?  Yeah, it typically takes the first timer a little while to grasp the concept, but the more you use the tape, the more it will become second nature.  Sometimes you will have to add or count fractions.  Again, this will all become easier with time.


Related posts:

  1. DIY Home Improvement Measurements
  2. How To Measure Square Yards

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Debra Mendenhall August 4, 2011 at 12:55 pm

To whom it may conern, I really like the simple set up that was done on reading measuring tapes by: Tim Jones; it was easy and straight to the point. I needed to brush up on my knowledge of measurements on a measuring tape. Thanks for your help :-)

Vonda Granger November 3, 2011 at 8:28 am

Where can I buy a tape measure with the numbers written on it!! I need a material one to measure body measurements.

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