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How to Read a Tape Measure?


The skill to read a tape measure is mandatory for everybody and especially for anybody who at one time or another will have to undertake home repairs.

Care should be observed in reading so that correct measurements are made. In addition, it is equally important that the tape measure used is good and that the user knows how to read it.

The standard tape measure has markings in both feet and inches. The first step in reading a tape measure is to place the tape measure on the item you are measuring. You should then look for the number on the tape measure that is nearest to you. Make sure that it is a whole number. If the marked out place you are trying to measure falls on a whole number, then record that number as it is the measurement you were looking for.

Sometimes, however, the mark will fall on another place on the tape measure that does not have a whole number. In that situation, you should:

  1. Count the number of marks between the inches marks, remembering that most tape measures have an inch divided into sixteenths.ž
  2. Starting at the whole number nearest to the marked spot you are measuring, you should now take a count of the number of marks between the number and the spot.
  3. For your record, the number you use as the length of your measurements should be expressed in inches and a fraction of sixteen because each inch is divided into sixteenths. As a result, if your mark falls on a place on the tape measure that is 6 marks after the whole number 15, you will record your measurement as “15 and six-sixteenths”. In recording measurements, it is recommended that the measurements be simplified as much as possible.

Before embarking on the task of carrying out the measuring exercise, some preliminary things should be observed to guarantee that everything goes well:

  • Make sure that your tape measure is clean and that you have sharp marking tools;
  • When you make a mark on the object that you are going to measure, you should use the “v” mark as opposed to marking by a straight line as the “v” mark sticks out and cannot be missed. You should also make sure that the point of your “v” mark falls on the exact spot you are measuring.


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