How to figure out my shoe size

Updated April 17, 2017

Shopping for shoes today often means knowing your shoe size and serving yourself. Many shoe stores offer shelves of selections with little or no sales help. Learn how to measure your own shoe size correctly to ensure the right fit. Knowing your foot's shape and measurements give you the best chance for finding a comfortable shoe.

Measuring your feet

Tape the paper to a hard flooring surface (not carpeting). Place a piece of tape on each corner of the paper to hold it in place. If you plan on using paint, tape a few layers of old newspaper to the floor first, then, tape the paper onto the newspaper.

For a temporary footprint, wet the bottom of one bare foot with a damp sponge. Place this foot on the paper and lean your weight on it. Press your foot onto the paper until the wet shape clearly appears. For a permanent footprint, apply paint to the sponge and then to the bottom of your foot before stepping onto the paper.

Mark an "X" at the topmost point of the front of your footprint (usually at the tip of the big toe). Mark another "X" at the base of the footprint at the bottommost point directly behind the heel. Mark the widest points of the footprint with an "X" on each side.

Place the ruler horizontally (with the foot facing vertically) at the topmost "X" and draw a line measuring 5cm (2 inches) long. Repeat this step for the other three pencil marks by making a horizontal line at the heel and two vertical lines on each side.

Use the ruler to measure the distance between the top and bottom lines. Record this measurement. Measure the distance between the two widest points and record this number.

Each footprint's vertical measurement corresponds with a specific size. A woman's foot measuring 23cm (9 inches) vertically, for instance, takes a women's size 6. A woman's foot measuring 23.8cm (9 3/8 inches), 24.3cm (9 11/16 inches), or 25.4cm (10 inches) vertically takes a women's size 7, 8, or 10, respectively. Find an online version of the shoe-sizing chart in the below resources.


Use the width measurement to determine whether you require wide, medium, or narrow shoes. Standards for each category vary with shoe manufacturers. Bring a tape measure and your footprint's width measurements to the shoe store. Measure the widest points of the shoe in question and compare this with your own measurement. Measure both feet. Frequently, one person's pair of feet have two different sizes. Use the largest measurement to determine the correct size. Keep your footprint measurements and footprint (if made in paint) for future reference. Athletes, especially, use footprints to find the correct athletic shoes depending on specific characteristics (such as high arches).

Things You'll Need

  • 1 piece of coloured paper - 27.94cm by 43.18cm (11 inches by 17 inches)
  • Transparent tape
  • Sponge
  • Tempura paint (optional)
  • Pencil
  • Measuring tape
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About the Author

Jennifer Marlowe is a seasoned journalist with experience since 1994. As a former reporter and columnist, she has written for a variety of publications including "The Cleveland Plain Dealer," "Sew Simple Magazine," "Northern Ohio Live," "Ohio Game & Fish" and "The Country's Best Log Homes." Marlowe holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from the University of Akron.