How To Use a Ruler

Learning how to use a ruler is very important in dealing with everyday things in life. If you are into drawing, creating handicrafts or other projects, you will need to use a ruler to measure them.

The ruler is also called a “rule” or a “line gauge”. In olden times, rulers were made of ivory and used by the Indus Valley Civilization. Nowadays, it remains a very useful tool for measuring many kinds of things. However, it is made of different materials. Rulers can be made of plastic, metal, or wood. They also vary in width, length and system of units used. There is the English or Imperial ruler, and there is also the Metric ruler. These are the most common kinds of rulers that are being used today.

So how exactly do you use a ruler? Read on and learn:

  • Learn how to read the English ruler. An English or Imperial ruler uses the unit of inches. Usually, a basic English ruler will have 16 inches. Each inch is divided into half. This is read as half an inch or ½. Each half inch is then divided into another half and is read as a quarter of an inch or ¼. The quarter of an inch is again divided into another half, which is read as an eighth of an inch, or 1/8. This can go on until it reaches 1/64 but most rulers only go until the sixteenths or 1/16. Start familiarizing yourself with the bigger fractions before going to the smaller ones.
  • Learn how to read the metric ruler. The metric ruler on the other hand uses the unit of centimeters. Each one of these centimeters is divided into two, which is read as ½ centimeter. Each half centimeter is then divided into 1/10 centimeters, or millimeters. As you can see, the metric ruler is easier to read.
  • Use your ruler to measure existing objects. To take the measurement of an existing object, align the first line of the ruler, which is zero to the object’s edge. See where the other end of the object lies along the lines of your ruler. The line closest to the edge is the measurement of the object. If, for example, the object lies on the 8th line of your English or Imperial ruler, then it is read as 8 inches or 8/16 inch. If the object lies on the 9th line of your Metric ruler, then it is read as 9/10 centimeters, or 9 millimeters.
  • Use your ruler to create measured lines. If you want to draw measured lines using your ruler, first decide how long you want it. If you want to draw a 6 inch line, start drawing from the zero-line and then end it on the 6-inch line marking of the ruler. You can do the same with a metric ruler.

Rulers are usually used for flat surfaces or regularly shaped objects. Irregularly shaped objects with circular, curved, or crooked lines are measured using a different kind of instrument. However, you can use a string to go around the irregular object and lay this down on your ruler to get its measurement.


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