Knowing how to read a tape measure is an essential skill for any construction related task; or even simple task around the home. Unfortunately not knowing how to read a tape, can complicate even the simplest of tasks.No worries, we are here to give you a crash course in learning how to read a tape measure.

We all know that every imperial tape measure known to man, has feet, inches, and half inches marked on it. Depending on your tape measure, it might also have eights, and sixteenths. That is unless you are using a metric tape measure than you’ll have centimeters and millimeters.

On an imperial tape measure, the most prominent marks that are the easiest to recognize are for the inch. These are usually the longest lines on the tape measure and are marked with large numbers. Generally every twelve inches, there is a marking indicating a “foot”,depending on the tape measure, the inches may start over at one or continue counting after each foot.

The next biggest mark, is located half way between any two one-inch marks, marking the half-inch. As simple fractions tell us, there are two half inches per every one inch. Some measuring tapes won’t have numbers/labels so you’ll have to use the inch markings to guide you. For example the half-inch mark between the eight and nine is 8 ½ inches.

After the half-inch, we step down to the quarter-inch. These are the next longest markings, slightly shorter than the half-inch markings. Each inch is made up of four quarter-inch markings. These are evenly spaced between each inch and half-inch marking.

Just under the quarter-inch marks are the eight-inch markings. These are smaller lines that are evenly spaced between the one-inch marking and the quarter-inch marking, the quarter-inch marking, and the half-inch marking, and so on. Eight one-eighth inches make up one inch.

The smallest markings on most tape measures belong to the sixteenths of an inch. There are 16 of these tiny marks for every one-inch. Every quarter is made up of four sixteenths of an inch.

Once you understand the basics of how a tape measure is formatted, it is easy to read one. And if you’re lucky your tape measure will have each little line labeled and you won’t have to remember them all!