How to Convert Feet & Inches to Meters & Centimeters

Updated April 17, 2017

Americans use the old British Imperial measuring system of feet and inches for linear distances. Even a number of Canadian firms do. Most scientific research (and most construction outside of North America) uses the metric system of meters and centimetres. Converting between the two is simple arithmetic, but very important. NASA contractors caused the Mars Explorer mission to fail because one used feet and inches, the other metric.

Take the number of feet in the item being measured and multiply by 12, to get inches.

Add any additional inches to the result of Step 1. For example, 5 feet, 5 inches is 5 x 12 = 60, plus 5 = 65 inches.

Multiply the inches by 2.54 to get centimetres. For the example above, 65 x 2.54 = 165.1 centimetres.

Divide centimetres by 100 to get meters. The 165.1 centimetres above is 1.651 meters.


You can make a quick approximation by multiplying feet by 30 to get centimetres, and treating one meter as one yard and four inches. One square meter is almost exactly 1550 square inches, or (for round-number approximations) 11 square feet.

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About the Author

Ken Burnside has been writing freelance since 1990, contributing to publications as diverse as "Pyramid" and "Training & Simulations Journal." A Microsoft MVP in Excel, he holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Alaska. He won the Origins Award for Attack Vector: Tactical, a board game about space combat.