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  • When trying to measure any object, place the ‘0’ mark of the measuring tape aligned with one end of the object.
  • Hold the tape straight and until the end of the object to read the measurement. If the tape is not held tightly, it may sag in the middle and give an inaccurate, usually larger measurement than what the object measures in reality. In case your hand is not stable enough to hold the tape straight, have somebody else hold one end of the tape, and then take your measurement.
  • When reading the measurement, the most prominent marks are the large hash marks signifying one centimeter (cm). These marks may not go the entire width of the tape, however, will be one of the most prominent marks. The cm mark is also the only mark represented by a number along with a line, thus making it easier to spot and measure.
  • After every cm mark, there will be 4 small hash marks, the smallest in the measuring tape. These will not have a number written with them, owing to their small sizes. However, these signify one millimeter (mm) which is one-tenth of a centimeter. For example, if you measure 4 mm marks after the number ‘5’ on a measuring tape, this measures as 5.4 cm or 54mm, because every cm has 10 mm.
  • Between every consecutive cm mark, there will be a mid-sized hash mark; this refers to half of a cm, or 0.5 cm. This means, after each cm mark, there will be 4 mm marks, and then one slightly larger than mm but smaller than cm mark to signify as half of a cm. This can be counted as 5mm too, because after this, there will be 4 mm marks, and then the largest cm hash mark.
  • Every 10th cm on the measuring tape will be highlighted by a different than usual color. It is usually red. This is primarily for ease of measurement, so that the individual measuring from the tape knows the measurement in multiples of 10.
  • In the same way, every 100 cm are also marked by a different colored number. This, however, is because 100 cm equal 1 meter (m). The hash mark for each m extends until the width of the measuring tape to make it further prominent. After each m, the measuring tape may start all over again from 0, or continue the count from 100; this remains varied for each measuring tape.
  • After you have read the measurement of your object from the measuring tape, a general way to write it is in a single unit. For example, instead of writing 4 cm and 2 mm, you can simply write 42 mm.

How to Read a Tape Measure in Imperial Units

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  • The beginning of the tape is marked by a ‘0’, which refers to zero inches. Place this end of the tape at one edge of the object you wish to measure.
  • Stretch/pull the measuring tape till across and until the end of the object to allow eased measurement of the object. Some measuring tapes have a metallic hook at the end of the tape which can be fixed to the edge of the object, thus making measuring a hands-free task.
  • When you begin reading the measurement, the largest mark signifies 1 inch. It has a prominent number written below (or beside, in some cases) it in bold, to make it easier to read and grasp.
  • The next most prominent mark will be the half-inch hash mark. This will be a slightly smaller line than the one-inch mark. However, it will be fairly larger than the other marks. Thus, between every two, inch marks of you will find a mark of 8/16 inches i.e. half-inch. While in some measuring tapes the 8/16 may be written in a simplified manner of 1/2, such text may also be missing in many measuring tapes, with the inch-mark being the only written mark.
  • Between every half-inch mark, there will be yet another hash mark to signify 4/16 (simplified to ¼) inches. This mark will be slightly smaller than the half-inch mark, but larger than the smallest of marks. For example, in case your measurement comes to 2 inches and 1/4 inch, the total will be 2 ¼ inches or 2+1/4 inches, which equals 9/4 or 2.25 inches.
  • The smallest mark in the imperial unit measuring tape is depictive of 1/16th of an inch. These marks will be found in most quantity in the measuring tape, as they are the smallest. This also shows that as the measurement on the tape (the size of mark) decreases in size, so does the value of the measurement.
  • Some measuring tapes may also have a specific foot marking. After every 6 inches, there will be an ‘nF’ mark where n is the number of feet beginning from 1, and going up until the measuring tape lasts. For example, 6 inches make up 1F, 12 inches result in 2F, etc. The measuring tape may also restart the count after each foot by beginning with 0 inches for ease of calculation, or it may resume counting too.
  • To write the measurement, the task will be easy if the object measures in approximate inch-values. However, if there is deviance from 1-inch markings to smaller ones, keep a calculator handy to add the fractions. Or display the might of your mental math for accurate tape measurement values.

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