What Is a Meter Stick?

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What Is a Meter Stick?

A meter stick is a measuring tool used for measuring the length of objects using the metric scale. 

Length is the measurement of an object from one end to another. Meter sticks can be used to measure lengths ranging from 1 mm up to 100 cm (1 meter).   

Meter sticks are generally made of wood or metal (such as steel). It is commonly used in the engineering industry, construction, works etc.

A meter stick

Some meter sticks are foldable and thus easy to store and carry.

A foldable meter stick

Meter Stick: Definition

A meter stick is a measuring tool that is typically 1 meter (100 centimeters) in length, used to measure length or distance and marked with a scale useful for precise measurements in centimeters and millimeters.

How Long Is a Meter Stick?

  • A meter stick is exactly 1 meter (100 cm) long. 
  • In terms of feet, it is a little bit more than 3 feet (about 3.2 feet long). It is because 1 meter is approximately equal to 3.28084 feet.
  • A meter stick is 1 meter long, which is divided into 100 centimeters. Each centimeter is further divided into 10 millimeters. There are 1000 millimeters in 1 meter.

(NOTE: While a standard meter stick is one meter (100 centimeters) in length, there are longer meter sticks available. Some meter sticks are 2 meters long. They are convenient to use when measuring longer lengths.)

Units of Measurement on a Meter Stick

There are usually 3 metric units on the meter stick: millimeter (mm), centimeter (cm), and meter (m).

Centimeter and millimeter markings on a meter stick

The smallest division is millimeter. Millimeter markings are very small. 

The next larger unit is the centimeter.

  • 10 millimeters (mm) = 1 centimeter (cm)

The entire stick then measures 1 meter.

  • 100 centimeters (cm) = 1 meter (m)

Some meter sticks have metric units on one side and the US customary units of measurement (such as inches) on the other side. Some sticks also have both metric and customary units on the same side. These are very useful when you need to consider both metric and customary measurements.

Hybrid stick showing centimeters and inches on the same side.

How to Read a Meter Stick

We can use a meter stick to measure even the smallest lengths up to millimeters. Let’s understand how meter stick measurements work.

Reading a meter stick is similar to reading a ruler. First, align the ‘0’ mark on the stick with one end of the object. Make sure that you hold the meter stick straight along the length of the object. 

Finally, read the number along the stick until you reach the object’s other end. The number on the stick that lines up with the other end is your measurement.

Using a meter stick to measure length of a book

Suppose the object you’re measuring has a length between 12 and 13 cm. In that case, you will have to read the marks for the next smallest unit — millimeter. For example, if you count 5 millimeters after 12 centimeters, then your final measurement will be 12.5 cm.

Example 1: The length of the given rope is 7 cm.

Starting point = 16 cm

Ending point = 23 cm

Length of rope = 23 cm – 16 cm = 7 cm 

The measurement shown on the given meter stick reads 16-23 cm.

Example 2: The measurement shown on the given meter stick reads 18.8 cm.

The measurement shown on the given meter stick reads 18.8 cm.

What Is a Meter Stick Used For?

  1. To measure small lengths in millimeters
  2. To measure lengths of comparatively longer objects up to 1 meter or 2 meters long (depending on the length of the meter stick).
  3. To draw straight lines

Facts about Meter Stick

  • 1 meter ≈ 3.2 feet ≈ 39.37 inches ≈ 1.09 yards
  • Besides meter sticks, rulers, tape measures, and yardsticks can also be used to measure length. Rulers are generally used to measure small lengths. They are used all the time in geometric constructions.
  • A tape measure measures things that are too long for a ruler, such as the distance across a room or a large picture frame. The advantage tapes have is that they’re flexible, unlike rulers and meter sticks.
  • A yardstick is similar to a meter stick, but measures objects only in the US customary units of inches and feet.

Solved Examples on Meter Stick

Example 1: Which of the following lengths or distances can be measured using a meter stick?

i) Distance across cities

ii) Length of a TV

iii) Height of a toddler

iv) Height of a Coconut tree


Think about the unit of measurement most suitable for measuring the object. 

i) Distance across cities cannot be measured using a meter stick. It is commonly measured in miles or kilometers.

ii) You can measure the length of a TV using the meter stick.

iii) You can measure the height of a toddler using the meter stick.

iv) Height of a coconut tree will definitely be greater than 1 meter. So, you cannot measure it using the meter stick.

Example 2: What is the relation between meter, centimeter, and millimeter? How does their interconversion work?


These are metric units of length.

There are 100 centimeters in 1 meter.

1 meter = 100 cm

There are 10 millimeters in 1 centimeter.

1 cm = 10 mm

Thus, there are 1000 millimeters in 1 meter.

1 meter = 1000 mm

Example 3: When measuring the length of a rope using a meter stick, the person did check the 0 marking. The reading on one end is 80 cm and the reading on the other end of the rope is 20 cm. What is the length of the rope?


Since the 0 marking is not aligned with one end of the rope, we need to subtract the two readings.

Reading at one end = 80 cm

Reading at the other end = 20 cm

Length of the rope = 80 cm – 20 cm = 60 cm

Practice Problems on Meter Stick

What Is a Meter Stick?

Attend this quiz & Test your knowledge.


The smallest division on the meter stick is

Correct answer is: millimeter
The smallest unit on the meter stick is millimeter.

How many millimeters are there on a meter stick?

100 mm
1 mm
10 mm
1000 mm
Correct answer is: 1000 mm
There are 1000 millimeters on a meter stick that is 1 meter long.

1 meter = ____ cm

Correct answer is: 100
1 meter = 100 cm

A meter stick is _____ long.

1 m
100 cm
1000 mm
All of the above
Correct answer is: All of the above
1 m = 100 cm = 1000 mm

Frequently Asked Questions about Meter Stick

A meter stick is one meter long. Some meter sticks also come with 2 meters length.

A meter stick has three units: millimeters, centimeters, and meters. Some meter sticks also have US customary units such as inches, feet, and yards.

Meter sticks and yardsticks are roughly equivalent. 1 meter is about 1.09 yards. The length of a “yardstick” is 3 feet or 0.9144 meters.