Changing the Measurement Units for Your Word Documents (Inches or Centimeters or Vice Versa)

by Avantix Learning Team | Updated December 8, 2018

Applies to: Microsoft® Word® 2010, 2013, 2016 and 365 (Windows)

You can easily change the measurement system units in Microsoft Word for all of your documents. If you’d prefer to work in inches rather than centimeters (or vice versa), simply change the measurement system in Word’s Options. You can choose inches, centimeters, millimeters, points or picas. Changes in the measurement system will affect Word’s Ruler as well as various dialog boxes (including the Paragraph dialog where you can change paragraph indents).

Unless the client or publication has a specific requirement for a type of measurement, most Microsoft Word users measure in inches or centimeters. Word and most graphic design programs support points, picas and other units and it is easy to convert from one unit to another.

Recommended article: How to Add or Remove Page Breaks in Microsoft Word

Changing the measurement system in Microsoft Word

To change the measurement system in Microsoft Word from centimeters to inches or to another unit of measure:

  1. Click the File tab in the Ribbon.
  2. Click Options.
  3. Click Advanced in the categories on the left.
  4. Scroll down to the Display group on the right.
  5. Beside Show measurements in units of, choose inches, centimeters, millimeters, points or pics from the drop-down menu.
  6. Click OK.

Below is the Options dialog box:

Microsoft Word Options dialog box to change measurement units.

Below is the Ruler in Microsoft Word in inches:

Microsoft Word Ruler in inches.

Below is the Ruler in Microsoft Word in centimeters:

Microsoft Word Ruler in centimeters.

If the Ruler is not displayed, click the View tab in the Ribbon and ensure the Ruler check box is checked.

Understanding points and picas

The two units of measurement most commonly used for typesetting and design are points and picas.

A point is equal to 1/72 inch (72 points in an inch). To be more precise, 1 point is equal to .013836 inch so 72 points are actually .996264 inch. This is rounded up for practical reasons. Points are the measurement unit most often used in printed publications created by graphic designers to indicate the size of type (font size) as well as the space between lines (this would be line spacing in Word but is called leading in many other programs). Points are often abbreviated as “pt”. Typographers would have traditionally referred to a type setting as 12/16 which would mean a 12 point type with 16 point leading or line spacing.

A pica is slightly less than 1/6 inch and contains 12 points. Picas are often used for fixed horizontal measurements (most often column width). They are commonly used by graphic designers when designing newspapers, magazines, newsletters and ads. Picas are often abbreviated as “p” (such as 16p). For example, the standard width for one column of text on a three-column grid on an 8.5″ x 11″ document is 14 picas and 4 points (normally abbreviated as 14p4).

Although most Microsoft Word users tend to use inches or centimeters as their preferred measurement system, points are used for font size and the space before and after paragraphs (in the Paragraph dialog box).

Subscribe to get more articles like this one

Did you find this article helpful? If you would like to receive new articles, join our email list.

Recommended Microsoft Word training courses

Microsoft Word: Intermediate / Advanced

Microsoft Word: Styles, Templates and Tables of Contents

Microsoft Word: Power User 

VIEW MORE COURSES >

Our instructor-led classroom courses are delivered at our downtown Toronto location at 1 Yonge Street, Suite 1801 (Toronto Star Building), Toronto, Ontario, Canada (some courses may also be delivered at an alternate downtown Toronto location). Contact us if you’d like to arrange custom training at your office on a date that’s convenient for you.

To request this page in an alternate format, contact us.

Copyright 2019 Avantix® Learning Inc.

You may also like

Microsoft, the Microsoft logo, Microsoft Office and related Microsoft applications and logos are registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in Canada, US and other countries. All other trademarks are the property of the registered owners.

Avantix Learning | 1 Yonge Street, Suite 1801 (Toronto Star Building), Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5E 1W7 | info@avantixlearning.ca

Summary
How to Change the Measurement System in Microsoft Word (from Inches to Centimeters and Vice Versa)
Article Name
How to Change the Measurement System in Microsoft Word (from Inches to Centimeters and Vice Versa)
Description
You can easily change the measurement system in Microsoft Word for all of your documents. If you’d prefer to work in inches rather than centimeters (or vice versa), simply change the measurement system in Word’s Options.
Author
Publisher Name
Avantix Learning Inc.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This