NOTE: This article will explore How To Read A Ruler in inches. We will explore ruler measurements in centimeters in another post.
Reading a ruler is a valuable skill that you will use almost every day, both on and off the job. As a crafter, a ruler or tape measure just might be one of the most important tools used in the creation process, yet there are so many people who don’t know how to use one. I was one of those people for the longest time. I’ve always felt a bit intimidated by all of those little tic lines.
Before learning the secret to cutting measurements I would struggle to create. This severely limited my creativity. I would do my best to keep all my measurements in 1/4″ increments. I comfortably knew the 1/4″ and 1″ increments. Pretty pathetic, right? If I was ever following a tutorial that needed a 1/16″ or 7/8″ cutting measurement I would either fudge the measurement or had to go research what little line I needed to use, which just delayed my creative process.
Though I don’t remember the lessons in school on how to read a ruler, I’m pretty sure I was taught what those little marks on the ruler were.
If you have ever been frustrated and are struggling to Understand how to read a ruler, ruler measurements and what those little marks on the ruler mean, I hope the information below will give you the skills you need to become confident in your measuring skills which, I believe, will help you improve your paper crafting, card making, scrapbooking and general crafting enjoyment and creativity.
The trick to understanding how to read a ruler is to understand what each little mark on the ruler represents.
- A ruler is typically 12 inches long (aka one foot long) while other measuring tools can be longer (tape measure)
- Measuring tools can be found in increments of 1/4″, 1/8″ and 1/16″ marks
- Each tic mark represents a fraction measurement and with fractions we always want to keep it at the lowest common denominator. Don’t worry, we won’t go any deeper than that when it comes to fractions. LOL!
The smallest unit of measurement on the ruler below is 1/16″ which is represented by the smallest tic mark|
The individual tic mark lines get incrementally larger, representing a larger measurement
By counting all the lines between the inch marks (5 – 6) you will see that there are 16 tic marks
Since this ruler is in increments of 1/16″, each tic mark is in the same incremental amount
Each line to the right is another 1/16″ mark
The smallest lines are in 1/16″ increments
The line to the right of the 1/16″ mark are the 1/8″ marks
To the right of the 1/8″ marks is the 1/4″ marks
Viewing the image below will show you the measurements
The tic marks are put into a fraction using its lowest common denominator
Example: 12/16″ would be reduced to 6/8″ which then would be reduced to 3/4″
The YouTube video below was originally published in 2011 and for me, is probably one of the best videos explaining how to read a ruler out there. In fact, many of the comments on the video were from people of all ages, saying they wished they had learned this in school, many years ago. I urge you to watch it and see for yourself how this will build your confidence in learning how to measure.
Here are some resources that you might find helpful:
HOW TO READ A RULER POSTER
If you are either wanting a quick and easy reference sheet on How To Read A Ruler for yourself or to help teach others (crafters, kiddos, etc), you might consider going to the Teachers Pay Teachers site and pick up this very inexpensive digital poster as a helpful reference and teaching guide.
How to use this resource:
Personal use and reference in your creative space
Classroom Teachers on math bulletin boards
Homeschool Teachers on math boards
This poster illustrates the different fractions of an inch on a ruler, making it clear and easy to identify measurements on their rulers. The Activity Guide provides supporting activities to practice measuring.
Another resource from the same organization at Teachers Pay Teachers is a downloadable printable that can help teach the ruler reaching skills to others. This inexpensive printable would be great to print and download for each student to have their own copy and practice filling in measurement marks. As we know, the more we practice, the easier it becomes. Eventually it will become an automatic skill.
How to use this resource:
Teachers in the classroom
Quilt and Craft instructors
Printable Rulers (all to scale): templates in both cm ruler templates and inch ruler templates. The inch rulers come in sets of half inch, quarter inch, one eighth inch, and one sixteenth inch increments. The metric rulers are available in mm and cm increments. Each page has five rulers and they are to be printed on 8.5 x 14 (legal) sized paper.
FUN RULER GAME
This last resource is just a fun way to improve your ruler reading skills. It’s called The Ruler Game and is an easy to use site for learning and practicing in both inches and centimeters There is nothing to download and challenges you to continue practicing until you can respond quickly and measure without even thinking. Give it a try…just for fun!
Reading a ruler is definitely a valuable skill that you will most likely use in many areas of your life. This skill could be used in your job, in your hobbies, and in your personal life. The more comfortable you are in using them can certainly help you be a more confident measurer (yup, I kinda just made that word up).