How to Read a Tape Measure

There are different types of tape measures available. Some are used to measure large areas like your room, roof, large areas that require a measuring tape that is durable. This is the type that you can pull and let snap back after use. There are also ones that are made of softer material, which are used to measure fabric and is designed for indoor use.

What ever measuring tape you use, one should know how to read a tape measure. It will require very minimal skill and all you need to understand are the divisions you see on this tool. The following are what you need to know to read a tape measure.

Reading the Inches

The most obvious marks you’ll find on your measuring tape are the ones for inches. They’re the ones with the large numbers on your strip of tape. Each distance from one number to the next is exactly one inch.

Reading the Half Inch Marks

When you read a tape measure you’ll notice that there are lines in between each number representing an inch. The lines are of different lengths and the tallest ones mark each half inch. These are usually in between each number for every inch on your measuring tape.

Quarter, Eighth, and Sixteenth Inch Marks

As you learn how to read a tape measure, you’ll notice that there are other marks in between the half inch and inch numbers. The next tallest ones are the quarter inch markers, followed by the eighth inch, and sixteenth inch markers. Each smaller fraction of an inch is marked with a shorter line.

Here’s how you read a tape measure:

Step one: Pull out a length of your tape measure starting at the point where you want to begin measuring. If you’re using a heavy duty measuring tape you can lock it at the length where you stopped so you don’t have to hold the length of tape down with your fingers.

Step two:
The first thing you read from your measuring tape is the inches. Read or write down the closest number to where you stopped.

Step three:
You then go over each of the half inch, quarter, and other lines on it and write them down until you get to the point where you stopped.


If you’re measuring large spaces you may hook one end of the tape measure and pull the whole length back. You may also lay and read a tape measure on the floor. Most tape measures you’ll find will have the same unit of measurement.

How to Read a Tape Measure

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