How to Calculate Significant Figures

By Chris Sherwood; Updated April 24, 2017
You must use the correct number of significant figures when making measurements.

When it comes to measurements in the physical sciences, determining significant figures is a crucial skill. From converting measurements, to really any type of equation used in science, using significant figures is the required way to give an estimated answer.

How to Calculate Significant Figures

Determine if the number is a non-zero digit.

If the number is a zero, determine if it is between two non zero digits.

If the number is a zero, determine if it is in a number without a decimal point.

If the number is a zero, determine if it is to the right of the last non-zero digit within a set of numbers.

About the Author

Chris Sherwood is a professional journalist who after years in the health administration field and writing health and wellness articles turned towards organic sustainable gardening and food education. He now owns and operates an organic-method small farm focusing his research and writing on both organic gardening methods and hydroponics.