You would usually use a metric ruler or meter stick to measure centimeters. There are also ways to estimate length in centimeters and to convert length measurements made in other units to equal values described in centimeters.

Steps

Method One: Measuring Centimeters

Look at the numbers on a metric ruler. Each number on a metric ruler corresponds to a full centimeter.[1]

Metric rulers only deal with centimeters and millimeters, so it usually makes sense to deal with rulers when measuring centimeters. You could also use a meter stick instead of a ruler, though.

Note the smaller lines in between. The little lines in between full numbers on a metric ruler each correspond to a full millimeter, which is one-tenth of a centimeter.

Each 1 mm is also 0.1 cm.

Place the end of the ruler at the edge of the object. To measure the length of an object in centimeters using a metric ruler, you first need to set the “0” edge of the ruler to the starting edge of the object to be measured. Keep the ruler as flat and parallel against the measured edge of the object as possible.

There may not be a marked “0” on the ruler, but the “0” edge is the edge closest to the “1 cm” measurement.”

Read the mark at the opposite edge of the object. Identify the nearest mark that matches the opposing edge of the object being measured. This mark will tell you how long the object is in centimeters.

If the object’s ending edge lands nearest a full number, the object’s length will be a full centimeter value.

Example: If the length of an object measures from the 0 edge to the 4 mark, that object is exactly 4 cm long.

If the object’s ending edge lands nearest an unnumbered mark, the object’s length will be the sum of the full centimeter value before that mark plus the value of the unnumbered mark measured in centimeter tenths.

Example: If the length of an object measures from the 0 edge to the third unnumbered mark after the 4 mark, the length of that object is 4.3 cm.

Method Two: Estimating Centimeters

Note a few objects that are roughly 1 cm long. If you do not have a measuring stick but you need a rough estimate of an object’s length in centimeters, you can use any object that is known to have a length that roughly equals one centimeter.

One of the easiest object’s to use might be a standard pencil, pen, or highlighter. The width or diameter of a standard pencil is close to 1 cm in distance.

Other options include the length of a staple, the width of five CDs or DVDs stacked together, the thickness of a standard notepad, and the radius of a U.S. penny.[2]

Place the item on a sheet of paper. Place the item you want to measure on top of a blank sheet of white or light colored paper. Make sure that the entire item fits on the paper.

Mark the starting edge of this object using a separate pencil or pen.

The paper needs to be light in color so that you can clearly see the marks being made.

Place one measuring object at the starting edge. Line up one edge of your measuring object with the starting edge of your item to be measured. For instance, if you are using the width of a pencil to estimate centimeters, place the pencil perpendicular against the side of the item being measured, so that its eraser or unsharpened point lies flat against the edge being measured. One side of the pencil should be flush against the edge of the measured item, while the other side should extend inward along the measured edge.

Mark the opposite edge of the measuring object. On the opposite side of your measuring object, make a small mark with a pencil or pen, placing it as close to the item being measured as possible.

Shift the position of the measuring object. Pick up the measuring object and re-position it so that the opposite edge of that object now lies on the mark previously created. Make another mark on the second side of the measuring object.

Make sure that the measuring object is flat against the side of the item being measured each time you shift its position. The item being measured must remain in the same position the entire time.

Repeat this process until you reach the very end of the item being measured.

Also make sure that the ending edge of the object is also marked.

Count the gaps. When finished, lift away the measuring object and the item being measured. Count the number of gaps or spaces in between your marks. This number is a rough estimate of the number of centimeters your measured item equals.

It is important that you count the gaps and not the lines/marks.

Method Three: Converting into Centimeters from Other Metric Measurements Convert millimeters to centimeters. There are 10 millimeters in 1 centimeter. To convert a measurement taken in millimeters to a measurement in centimeters, you need to divide the measurement by 10.

Example: 583 mm / 10 = 58.33 cm

Know how to convert meters to centimeters. There are 100 centimeters in 1 meter.

To convert a measurement taken in meters to an equal measurement in centimeters, you should multiply the original measurement by 100.

Example: 5.1 m * 100 = 510 cm

Calculate centimeters from kilometers. There are 100,000 centimeters in . If you want to convert a measurement originally taken in kilometers to an equal centimeter value, you need to multiply the original measurement by 100000.

Example: * 10000 = 278000 cm

Method Four: Converting into Centimeters from Imperial Measurements Convert inches to centimeters. In 1 inch, there are 2.54 centimeters. This value is not constant, however, so you will need a special conversion factor to turn inches into centimeters.

If you need to convert a measurement originally taken in inches to its equal centimeter value, you need to divide the number of inches by the value 0.39370.[3]

Example: 9.41 inches / 0.39370 = 23.9 cm

Calculate centimeters from feet. For every 1 foot, there are 30.48 centimeters. As with inches, however, the ratio is not constant, so you will need a separate conversion factor.

To convert a measurement originally taken in feet to a separate measurement described in centimeters, you need to divide the original measurement by 0.032808.[4]

Example: 7.2 feet / 0.032808 = 219.46 cm

Know how to convert yards to centimeters. There are 91.44 centimeters in every 1 yard. As with other imperial to metric conversions, you need to use a separate conversion factor to change yards into centimeters. If you want to convert a measurement taken in yards to one in centimeters, divide the original yard value by 0.010936.[5]

Example: 3.51 yards / 0.010936 = 320.96 cm

Things You’ll Need

Metric ruler (or similar metric measuring stick)

Pencil

Paper

Calculator

Sources and Citations

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