How to Read Centimeters Like a Pro: A Beginner’s Guide

How to Read Centimeters Like a Pro: A Beginner’s Guide

If you’re new to reading measurements in centimeters then don’t worry, it’s not as difficult as it may seem. In almost every country across the world, the metric system has taken over from the imperial system of measurement. That means that you’ll find yourself needing to read centimeters more often than not.

This beginner’s guide to reading centimeters will give you all of the information that you need in order to read and understand this essential unit of measurement. We’ll cover a wide range of topics, from the definition of centimeters, their history, what they are used for, the difference between centimeters and inches, how to read centimeters on a ruler, and a lot more!

What is a Centimeter?

A centimeter (cm) is a unit of length in the metric system, which is a decimal system based on the power of ten. It is one-hundredth of a meter, which is the base unit of length in the metric system. The symbol for the centimeter is “cm”.

The centimeter is commonly used in measuring lengths, heights, widths, and other physical parameters of objects. It is also widely used in science and engineering for measuring distances between small and medium-sized objects.

The History of Centimeters

The history of the metric system, upon which the centimeter is based, can be traced back to the French Revolution, which started in 1789. At that time, there were many different systems of measurement in use across Europe, which made it very difficult for people to communicate with each other.

So, the French National Assembly commissioned a group of scientists to come up with a new, universal system of measurement that would be based on the decimal system. The result was the metric system, which quickly spread across France and then across Europe.

What Are Centimeters Used For?

Centimeters are used for a wide range of different purposes. Here are just a few examples:

  • Measuring the length, height, and width of objects
  • Measuring distances between objects
  • Determining body measurements such as waist, chest, and leg length
  • Measuring the size of computer screens and TVs
  • Measuring the length of fabrics and yarns

The Difference Between Centimeters and Inches

The most significant difference between centimeters and inches is the system of measurement. Inches are part of the imperial system of measurement, which is primarily used in the United States, while centimeters are part of the metric system, which is used in almost every other country in the world.

When you are measuring lengths, the measurement itself is different. There are 2.54 centimeters in every inch, so if you want to convert inches to centimeters, you simply need to multiply the number of inches by 2.54. Similarly, if you want to convert centimeters to inches, you just need to divide the number of centimeters by 2.54.

How to Read Centimeters on a Ruler

One of the most common ways to read centimeters is on a ruler. Most rulers have both centimeters and inches on them, so you can use them to measure both types of lengths.

Step 1: Line Up the Ruler

First, you need to place the ruler at the starting point of the measurement, making sure that it is lined up correctly. The “zero” mark should be the starting point, so make sure that it is at the very edge of the object that you are measuring.

Step 2: Identify the Measurement

Next, look at the centimeter markings on the ruler, which will be marked by small lines that are evenly spaced along the ruler. Each centimeter mark will be labeled with its corresponding number, starting with zero.

Step 3: Read the Measurement

The measurement is recorded by identifying the mark on the ruler that corresponds with the end-point of the object that you are measuring. To read the measurement, simply look at the number on the ruler that corresponds with the last line that the object touched. This will tell you how many centimeters the object is in length.

Best Practices for Reading Centimeters

Reading centimeters correctly is essential, especially when it comes to getting accurate measurements. Here are some best practices to keep in mind:

  • Always make sure that you are using a ruler or measuring tape that is clearly marked in centimeters
  • When measuring something, make sure that the starting and ending points are clearly defined, so that you know where to start and stop your measurements
  • Take multiple measurements to ensure that you are getting an accurate measurement, especially if the measurement is important or if it will determine the final outcome of a project


Reading centimeters is an essential skill that everyone should learn. Whether you are measuring the length of an object or determining your waist size, knowing how to read centimeters correctly is essential for getting accurate measurements. By following the tips and best practices outlined in this guide, you can be sure that you are reading centimeters like a pro!


Here are some of the most common questions that people have about reading centimeters:

  • Q: How many centimeters are in an inch?
  • A: There are 2.54 centimeters in every inch.
  • Q: Why is the metric system better than the imperial system?
  • A: The metric system is based on the power of ten, which makes it easier to use, learn, and understand. It is also a universal system of measurement, which means that everyone can use it, regardless of where they are from.
  • Q: Can I use a ruler that only has centimeters on it?
  • A: Yes, you can use a ruler that only has centimeters on it. However, if you need to measure something in both inches and centimeters, you will need a ruler that has both.


  • National Institute of Standards and Technology, “The International System of Units (SI)”, 2019
  • Wikipedia, “Metric system”, 2021

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *