# How to Read a Meter Stick

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Although Imperial units of measure, or more accurately U.S. customary units, are usually used during everyday life in the United States, if you work in the sciences, there's a good chance you'll find yourself using metric units of measure like meters, centimeters and millimeters. All of these are present on the meter stick – essentially, a giant ruler that is a little more than 3 feet long. Just like a ruler, you can use the meter stick to read measurements on real-life objects.

## Units of Measure on the Meter Stick

A meter stick will usually show at least three different units of measure. From smallest to largest, they're millimeters (which are so small their marks probably won't be numbered), centimeters and then the 1 meter denoted by the entire stick. Because there's just 1 meter in a meter stick, it might not be marked; but 1 meter is equivalent to 100 centimeters, which will be marked.

Some meter sticks will also have U.S. customary units on them, either on the flip side of the meter stick or marked out on the opposite side of the face from the metric measurements. From smallest to largest, the customary units you might see marked out on a meter stick are inches, feet and 1 yard. As with the 1-meter "mark," the 1-yard mark might not actually appear on the meter stick – but 1 yard equals 3 feet or 36 inches.

#### Tips

• Not sure which units of measure you're looking at? Check out the numbers. If the numbers stop at 36, you're looking at a yard stick instead of a meter stick, or at least the inches/feet/yard side of a meter stick. If the numbers go all the way up to 100, you're definitely looking at a meter stick.