How to Read a Tape Measure

Measuring tapes are used to measure areas longer than the average ruler. These are typically used for irregularly shaped areas or those that are not level. The flexibility of tape measures allows it to be wrapped around objects.

There are several kinds of measuring tapes. For large areas and huge objects, heavy duty measuring tapes with a pull and snap mechanism are used. For measuring clothes and other small materials or objects, there are measuring tapes that come in softer materials.

Most tape measures have the same unit of measurement on both the top and bottom part of the tape. Some have the metric system on one side and English on the other.


General Instructions for Reading a Tape Measure


  1. Hold the front of the tape measure at any point you wish to start measuring from and pull it up to the point where you want to stop measuring.
  2. The number designated on the spot where you stopped measuring tells you the length, in inches, of the object that you are measuring.


Measuring Your Waist


If you want to measure your waist, use a tape measure made of soft material  which can go around your waist. This kind of tape measure is typically used for sewing.


Measuring Large Areas


Large areas are measured through the use of contractor measuring tapes. These are the ones that come rolled up inside cases. They often have tabs at the end so that they can be hooked to objects. These were designed that way so they can stay in place and not roll back into the case.

To get the accurate measurement using a contractor measuring tape, note its width, which can be found on the case body. The recommended width is 3”.

Here are some simple steps to successfully measure a room from corner to corner:

  1. Position the tape on the floor and hook it to a corner of the room.
  2. Extend the tape along the floor of the room.
  3. Push out the base of the tape case into the corner when you reach the other end of the room. Even if contractor measuring tapes are a bit hard, they can bend and then snap back into place. Bend the tape so that it is folded exactly where the side of the room ends.
  4. Read the measurement from the tape measure. Note the unit of measurement used to avoid confusion.

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