How to read a ruler in tenths

Updated February 21, 2017

If you are trying to teach your child how to read and to measure with a ruler, you might find it difficult to measure to the tenths of an inch. This is because a standard English ruler, most commonly used in the United States, is measured in sixteenths and eighths of an inch. You can convert your measurements to tenths of inches by using a converted decimal ruler.

Place your decimal ruler on a flat surface where you can clearly read it. Reading from left to right, your decimal ruler, like the standard ruler, has the numbers 1 through 12, which represent the inch marks.

Note the nine vertical dashes labelled 1 through 9 between the inch marks. They represent 1/10 inch or 100/1000 inch (one hundred thousandths of an inch).

Measure an object and convert your measurement to tenths of an inch. For example, measure a standard, sharpened pencil. If your measurement comes out to 5 inches and 4 vertical dashes, then your pencil is 5 and 400/1000 inches. This reduces to 5.4 inches.

Count the vertical dashes between each of the 1 through 9 numerals. There are nine. Each represents 0.10. Therefore, if you measure an object that is 5 solid inches, but it also stretches a little farther to the eighth dash past the 200/1000-inch mark, then you would need to add 5.0 + 200/1000 (or .200) + 800/1000 (or .80) for a total of 5.28 inches.

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About the Author

Vera Leigh has worked as a professional freelance writer since 2008. Her work has appeared in "Learn Overseas" and "Grad Source" magazines. In addition, she received an honorable mention in "Newsweek's" My Turn contest. She has written features for nonprofits focused on literacy, education, genomics and health. In her spare time, Leigh puts her English major to use by tutoring in grammar and composition.