Measuring Tape Use: Common Conversion Math

Conversions to help with math for measuring.

Measuring tapes are used to measure distances and objects. Most measuring tapes in the United States are marked to measure in inches, feet and yards. However, outside of North America measurements are often conducted using the metric system. Whatever system you use to measure something, it is useful to be able to convert measurements within a system as well as into other units of measurement. The following conversions are useful math for calculating measurements.

Inches, feet and yards

The most commonly used distance measurements in the U.S. are inches, feet and yards. Longer distances are often measured in miles. Fractions of inches are also used to measure small distances or to increase the granularity of a measurement.

- There are 12 inches in a foot.

- There are three feet, or 36 inches, in a yard

- A mile contains 1760 yards, or 5280 feet

Common fractional measurements of an inch are the half, fourth, eighth and sixteenth increments. On some rulers the inches are even divided into thirty-seconds.

Metric measurement

The metric system is the most commonly used distance measuring system in other parts of the world. The metric system is also known as the International System of Units. The metric system is very easy to learn because each unit is ten times larger than the next smallest unit. It is a decimal system which means increments of each unit are indicated as a decimal percentage. In other words, if something is five and one half meters, it is indicated as 5.5 meters. The millimeter is the smallest commonly used unit for measuring metric distance.

- Ten millimeters are in a centimeter.

- Ten centimeters are in a meter

- 1000 meters are in a kilometer

Inches to centimeters, yards to meters

Sometimes it is necessary to convert from one measurement system to another. For example to use a European design to build something, you may need to convert metric measurements into inches or feet.

One inch is equal to 25.4 millimeters or 2.54 centimeters. So, to convert inches into centimeters, multiply the inches by 2.54. Using this formula, a measurement of 5 inches is equal to 12.7 centimeters. To convert feet into meters, multiply feet by 0.305.

To convert centimeters into inches, multiply the number of centimeters by .394. Meters can be converted into feet by multiplying them by 3.28 and meters can be converted into yards by multiplying them by 1.09.

Need to calculate miles and kilometers? One mile is roughly equal to 1.6 kilometers; to make a conversion, multiply the number of miles by 1.6 in order to see the measurement in kilometers. To calculate kilometers back into miles, multiply the number of kilometers by .621.

Square and cubic conversions

If you are measuring areas, you may need to convert square meters into square feet or yards. To calculate square feet, multiply the number of square meters by 10.8; for square yards, multiply by 1.2.

Cubic meters can be converted into cubic yards by multiplying the number of cubic meters by 1.31.

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