If you have been taught using the metric system that is the favored system for units of measurement across much of Europe and Canada, then you may not be very familiar with imperial measurements.

The imperial system of measurements is the preferred method in the United States, and so it is vital to understand terms used in this system because you are likely to come across them in various areas of life, for example, when buying items that have their size specifications listed.

Here we will look at feet and inches and how they are symbolized in writing, as well as calculations you can use to convert them.

## Why Using Feet and Inches?

Feet and inches are units of measurement used in the imperial measuring system. Feet are the larger measurement of the two, with one foot being the equivalent of 12 inches.

When writing down measurements, people will often abbreviate the terms feet and inches or use a symbol to denote the method of measurements used.

This is to save time because repeatedly writing out the words ‘feet’ or ‘inches’ will quickly become tiresome, and it is unnecessary if everyone can understand what a symbol stands for.

These symbols are also great because they can be understood across different languages, unlike words that will need to be translated.

## Symbol for Feet

The symbol for feet in terms of measuring units is a single apostrophe. For example, if you see 5’ written down, this can be read as five feet. In some instances, feet will also be abbreviated with a shortened version of the word being used rather than the symbol. Feet will be abbreviated to ft, so to write six feet, you would write 6 ft.

## Symbol for Inches

The symbol for inches is a double apostrophe. In a text format, five inches would instead be shown as 5’’. Inches can also be abbreviated to a shortened version of the word. This can look like ins or in. For example, if you were to write down the measurement of ten inches, you could save time and space on the paper by writing 10 ins or 10 in.

## Examples

The symbols for feet and inches are so similar that it might be difficult to distinguish them at first, but this is a method of recognizing measurements you will get used to the more often you see it.

Here we will look at examples of feet and inch measurements and how they can look in both symbol versions and abbreviated versions.

- 8’ 1” would read as eight feet and one inch
- 14 ft 6 ins would read as fourteen feet and six inches
- 10 ft 2 in would read as ten feet and two inches

## Why Use Symbols?

### Speed

One reason why symbols are used to denote feet and inches rather than writing out the full words is simply to save time.

If you work in an industry where you regularly take measurements, for example, in carpentry, then writing out the full words for measurements will get very monotonous and could cost you valuable time. Using symbols will mean you can spend less time writing down measurements and more time doing the real work.

### Space

The issue of space is another reason why using symbols instead of full words can be very useful. If you are looking at a diagram of a table you are interested in buying that has the measurements written along each side of the piece of furniture, full words are going to take up a lot more space compared with symbols, which may mean the image itself has to be reduced to fit into the template.

If you are taking down measurements on pieces of wood you are cutting, for example, then you simply aren’t going to have the space on smaller planks of wood to write the whole words of dimensions out.

### Comprehension

Symbols are extremely useful for use across the world because they can be understood by people who speak different languages without the need to translate. This means that even if you are in a foreign country where you do not know the language if you see an image of a beach and the symbols 50’, you will know the beach is a further fifty feet away.

## Conversions

If you need to convert inches to feet, then this is relatively easy because they are both within the imperial system. One foot is the equivalent of 12 inches, so if you have a measurement of longer than 12 inches, it can be converted into feet.

If your total number is divisible by 12, then this will make your calculation much easier. For example, to find out how many feet are in 48 inches, you would calculate 48 divided by 12, which would give you a nice round number of 4. This means 48 inches is the equivalent of 4 feet.

For numbers that are not divisible by 12, you are going to have some left over. For example, to find out how many feet are in 62 inches, you will want to find the next lowest number divisible by 12. This is 60. So you would calculate 60 divided by 12 that gives an answer of 5.

This means 60 inches is the equivalent of 5 feet, but you still have the 2 inches leftover because your original number was 62. You simply tag this onto the end, giving you a final answer of 6 feet and 2 inches, which of course, could also be written with symbols as 6’ 2”.

To convert feet and inches to meters and centimeters is harder because these work on the metric system. One foot is the equivalent of 30.48cm, so to convert a foot’s measurement to cm, you would multiply your starting number by 30.48. For example, to find 3 feet in cm, you would need to calculate 3 multiplied by 30.48, which gives you 91.44; therefore, the equivalent of 3ft is 91.44cm.

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