# What Is an Engineering Tape Measure?

by Ian Graham; Updated September 26, 2017Though all tape measures measure distance, length, width or height, the graduations — or markings — that subdivide the standard measurement of the foot are not the same on engineering measuring tapes as on those used by carpenters or do-it-yourself enthusiasts.

## Standard Tape Measure

On a standard tape measure, the subdivisions of the foot are inches, while the inches themselves are subdivived by factors of four, usually 1/16 or 1/32 inch, as well as the larger units of 1/4 and 1/2 inch. This is sufficient for simple measurements, but doing calculations with values greater than 1 foot requires converting those measurements into inches first.

## Engineering Tape Measure

On an engineering tape measure, the foot is not divided into inches, but into tenths, or larger factors of 10, such as 1/20. 1/30, 1/50 or 1/60. With this type of tape measure, values greater than 1 foot can be multiplied without first converting the value to another unit, particularly in the case of tenths of a foot. A 1 1/2 feet times two would be expressed as 1.5 times two, which equals three feet.

## Conversion

On an engineering tape measure, 1.5 feet is the same as 1 foot, 6 inches on a standard tape measure. Each tenth of a foot on an engineering tape measure is equal to 1.2 inches.

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#### Photo Credits

- tape measure ruler image by MichMac from Fotolia.com