How to Measure Things Without a Ruler

Have you ever gone to measure something only to realize (after looking everywhere for 30 minutes) that you do not own a single ruler, tape measure, sewing measure, or any other labeled measuring tool? This is much more of a normal occurrence than you may think. Measuring items aren’t typically bought until they are needed. So, if this is the first time you need one, you’re stuck without a tool to measure.

But you’re about to have your mind blown with all the practical ways you can measure things using objects around your home without ever buying a measuring tool!

The Obvious Solution: Your Smartphone

There are a few ways to use your smartphone for measuring. First, you can simply memorize the length and width of your phone in case you need them for reference. Second, you can download a measurement app on your phone. Third, you can take a picture of a ruler, to scale, and save it on your phone. Those are three ways that your smartphone can help you.

See how to measure things on an Android phone here:

The Other Solution: Knowing Common Measurements

Another way to be able to quickly measure things without rulers and other measuring tools is by knowing the measurements of things around you. There are three different sets of items you are around that can help you measure things: your body, office items, and money. You will use different ones depending on how exact a measurement needs to be.

Estimate a measurement with parts of your body:

  • 1 inch – from tip of thumb to top knuckle of thumb
  • 4 inches – width of hand across bottom knuckles without thumb
  • 1 yard – from the nose to the index finger knuckle on straight, stretched out arm
  • One elbow length – generally 15 to 18 inches from bent elbow to fingertips

Take exact measurements with everyday office items:

  • Standard business card – 3.5 in. long by 2 in. wide
  • Standard printer paper – 8.5 in. by 11 in.
  • Business size envelopes – 4 in. by 9.5 in.
  • Standard paper clip – 1 in.

Use money to take exact and estimated measurements:

  • U.S. $1 bill – 2.6 in. tall by 6.2 in. long
  • U.S. quarter – just under 1 in. across, 2.5 cm.
  • U.S. penny – ¾ of an inch across, 2 cm.
  • Canadian bills – 6 in. long by 2.8 in. tall

Who Needs a Ruler, Anyway?

With the tips and knowledge offered here, there is no reason you’ll ever need to look for a ruler again! Start memorizing your everyday item measurements, and get your smartphone set up for measuring now.