How to Read a Tape Measure in Tenths

Updated June 29, 2018

Some carpentry and engineering jobs require measurements of materials in increments of tenths of inches. Standard measuring tapes are in increments of sixteenths, but there are measuring tapes available in tenths of inches. Changing to a differently calibrated tape measure and reading the exact measurement can be confusing as each mark is not labelled on a tape measure. Tape measures marked in tenths of inches are available from some speciality retailers, such as surveyor-supply companies.

Place the tip of the measuring tape on one end of the item and measure its length to the other end. For this example the length of a board is between 6 and 7 inches. The inch marks have the numbers next to them and a line that extends across the entire vertical width of the measuring tape.

Count the marks between the 6 inch mark and the 7 inch mark of the measurement on the tape measure before the centre mark. Each mark is one-tenth of an inch. The line in the middle of 6 and 7 inches is 5/10 of an inch, or 1/2 inch, and has a longer vertical line on the tape measure for quick reference. For example, if the measurement is four marks past the 6 inch mark the measurement is 6-4/10 inches, or 6-2/5 inches.

Count the marks past the centre mark if the measurement is past the centre mark of 1/2 inch. For example, if the measurement is two marks past the centre mark of 5/10 toward the 7 inch mark, the measurement is read as 6-7/10s inches.


Count the mark after the 1-inch mark up to and including the 2-inch mark to determine your tape measure calibration. A tape measure calibrated in tenths will have ten marks in this area. If you are remodelling an area and the measurements do not match up evenly with a standard tape measure, it is likely that the original construction was done in tenths of inches.

Things You'll Need

  • Measuring tape calibrated in tenths
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About the Author

Mary Lougee has been writing for over 10 years. She holds a Bachelor's Degree with a major in Management and a double minor in accounting and computer science. She loves writing about careers for busy families as well as family oriented planning, meals and activities for all ages.