Last Updated: April 27, 2024


A centimeter is a key unit for measuring length in the metric system, about the width of a large paperclip. It’s denoted as ‘cm’. This small yet significant measurement plays a crucial role in everything from everyday measurements to scientific research.

What Is a Centimeter?

A centimeter is a metric unit of measurement that is used to measure length. It is one hundredth of a meter. Centimeters are commonly used for everyday measurements and are represented by the abbreviation “cm.”

In everyday use, centimeters provide a convenient measurement comparison to inches, an Imperial system unit. For example, on a ruler, one side typically shows measurements in centimeters, and the other in inches. To give you an idea of the scale, one centimeter is roughly equivalent to 0.39 inches.

  • A centimeter is a unit of length in the metric system.
  • One meter is equal to 100 centimeters.
  • 10 millimeters equal one centimeter.
  • The abbreviation for centimeter is “cm.”
  • Square centimeters (cm²) are used to measure surface area.
  • Cubic centimeters (cm³) are used to measure volume.
  • Centimeters are ideal for measurements too large for millimeters and too small for meters.
  • They are widely used for measuring the dimensions of objects, distances, and sizes in everyday life.

Tools to Measure Centimeter

  1. Ruler: A ruler features small marks for millimeters and longer marks for centimeters, allowing for quick, easy measurements of objects up to 30 centimeters long. It’s perfect for schoolwork, drafting, and small-scale crafts.
  2. Measuring Tape: The tape is marked with numbers for each centimeter, providing flexibility to wrap around objects or measure longer distances directly. It’s especially handy in sewing to measure fabric or in construction for room dimensions.
  3. Meter Stick: This long stick has marks for each centimeter up to 100 centimeters (1 meter), enabling accurate measurement of objects or distances with a bit more length. It’s a go-to for educators and professionals needing to measure with more reach than a standard ruler.
  4. Vernier Caliper: Utilizes a main scale and a sliding secondary scale to measure internal and external dimensions very precisely. Centimeters are used alongside millimeters to give clear, accurate measurements of objects with more complexity than what a ruler can handle.
  5. Micrometer Screw Gauge: Though primarily showing millimeter and smaller subdivisions, the measurements can be easily translated into centimeters for understanding minute dimensions, such as the thickness of metal sheets or diameter of wires, with exceptional accuracy.
  6. Digital Caliper: With an electronic display, this tool can switch between millimeters and centimeters, offering precise measurements of internal and external dimensions, depth, and step. It’s used in contexts where precision is paramount, like mechanical parts fabrication, with the added convenience of easy-to-read digital readings.

Centimeter Ruler

Centimeter and Inches Ruler

On a ruler, one side shows measurements in centimeters (cm) and the other in inches. If you look at a ruler that’s 15 cm long, you might notice it only goes up to about 5 or 6 inches on the inch side. This is because inches are longer than centimeters; specifically, one inch is equal to 2.54 cm. So, a certain length will seem bigger in cm than in inches because cm are smaller.

A centimeter ruler is really handy for several things:

  • Measuring how long something is in cm.
  • Drawing lines that are exactly a certain length, like a 5 cm line.
  • Making shapes for geometry class.
  • Drawing lines and angles for math and design.

Converting Centimeters to Other Units of Measurement of Length

1 cm =  10 millimeter
100 cm =  1 meter
100000 cm =  1 kilometer
1 cm =  0.3937 inches
1 cm =  0.0328 feet
1 cm =  0.01 yard

Understanding how to convert centimeters to other units of length is crucial when working with measurements in various formats. Whether comparing lengths, adding, or subtracting different measurements, conversions ensure consistency. Here’s how to easily convert centimeters to and from other common units of length:

Centimeters to Inches:

1 cm = 0.3937 inches.
  • Multiply the centimeter value by 0.3937 to get inches, since 1 cm equals 0.3937 inches.
    • Example: 10 cm is 10 x 0.3937 = 3.937 inches.

Inches to Centimeters:

1 inch = 2.54 cm
  • Multiply the inch value by 2.54 to convert to centimeters.
    • Example: 5 inches is 5 x 2.54 = 12.7 cm.

Feet to Centimeters:

1 feet = 30.48 cm
  • Multiply the foot value by 30.48 to convert to centimeters.
    • Example: 6 feet is 6 x 30.48 = 182.88 cm.

Centimeters to Feet:

  • Divide the centimeter value by 30.48 or multiply by 0.0328 to convert to feet, as 1 foot is 30.48 cm.
    • Example: 120 cm is 120 ÷ 30.48 = 3.937 feet.

Centimeters to Yards:

1 cm = 0.0109361 yards
  • Multiply the centimeter value by 0.0109361 to get yards.
    • Example: 11900 cm is 11900 x 0.0109361 = 130.14 yards.

Yards to Centimeters:

1 yard = 91.44 cm
  • Multiply the yard value by 91.44 to convert to centimeters.
    • Example: 10 yards is 10 x 91.44 = 914.4 cm.

Centimeters to Kilometers:

100,000 cm = 1 km
  • Divide the centimeter value by 100,000 to convert to kilometers.
    • Example: 50000 cm is 50000 ÷ 100000 = 0.5 km.

Kilometers to Centimeters:

1 km = 100,000 cm
  • Multiply the kilometer value by 100,000 to convert to centimeters.
    • Example: 2 km is 2 x 100000 = 200,000 cm.

Meters to Centimeters:

1 meter = 100 cm
  • Multiply the meter value by 100 to convert to centimeters.
    • Example: 5 meters is 5 x 100 = 500 cm.

Centimeters to Millimeters:

1 cm = 10 mm
  • Multiply the centimeter value by 10 to convert to millimeters.
    • Example: 6 cm is 6 x 10 = 60 mm.

How do you Measure Centimeters?

  1. Choose Your Tool: For most situations, a ruler or a measuring tape with metric units (centimeters and millimeters) is ideal. Make sure the tool is long enough for what you want to measure.
  2. Align the Tool: Place the edge of your measuring tool at one end of the object you’re measuring. Ensure the “0” mark on the ruler or tape is exactly at the starting point of the length you’re measuring.
  3. Read the Measurement: Stretch the ruler or tape across the object to the other end. Look at the metric side, which is usually marked in centimeters (cm) and millimeters (mm). Read the measurement at the point where the object ends. The major marks are centimeters, and the smaller marks between them are millimeters, providing a more precise measurement. If your object ends on a major mark, you have a whole centimeter measurement. If it ends on or between the smaller marks, you can count the millimeters for a more precise measurement.
  4. Record Your Measurement: Write down your measurement in centimeters, using decimals or fractions if necessary. For example, if an object measures between 12 and 13 centimeters, and it’s halfway between them, you would write 12.5 cm.

Uses of Centimeter

  1. Tailoring and Fashion: For measuring fabric lengths, body measurements, and adjustments.
  2. School Projects: In science experiments, crafts, and when learning about measurements.
  3. Construction and Carpentry: For detailed interior designs, furniture dimensions, and smaller-scale projects.
  4. Medical Measurements: Such as monitoring wound dimensions, organ sizes, and growth charts for children.
  5. Sports Equipment: In designing and customizing gear like gymnastics mats or weights.
  6. Technology and Engineering: For creating prototypes, parts of machines, and electronics where precision is crucial.
  7. Art and Design: In graphic design, architecture, and art projects for accurate scaling and dimensions.
  8. Everyday Use: For measuring household items, garden layouts, or when purchasing appliances to ensure fit.


What is 1 centimeter measurement?

A centimeter is a unit of length in the metric system, equivalent to one-hundredth of a meter, used widely for everyday measurements.

What is an example of a centimeter?

An example of a centimeter could be the diameter of a standard paperclip, which is roughly about 1 cm wide.

How big is 1 cm on a ruler?

On a ruler, 1 cm is represented by the space between two longer lines that are usually numbered, making it easy to spot.

Is 1 cm half an inch?

No, 1 cm is not half an inch; it’s about 0.3937 inches, which is less than half an inch.

How can I measure centimeters without a ruler?

Without a ruler, you can measure centimeters using a standard credit card, which is about 8.5 cm wide, or by approximating with your thumb width.

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