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:
- Click the File tab in the Ribbon.
- Click Options.
- Click Advanced in the categories on the left.
- Scroll down to the Display group on the right.
- Beside Show measurements in units of, choose inches, centimeters, millimeters, points or pics from the drop-down menu.
- Click OK.
Below is the Options dialog box:
Below is the Ruler in Microsoft Word in inches:
Below is the Ruler in Microsoft Word 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).
Did you find this article helpful? If you would like to receive new articles, join our email list.
Recommended Microsoft Word training 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
You can insert lines in Microsoft Word by drawing lines or by using borders. In this article, we’ll teach your how to insert or delete lines created with paragraph borders.
There are a few ways to keep a Microsoft Word row or table together on one page. The method you use depends on several factors including the size of the table …
You can insert hyperlinks in Microsoft Word documents to make it easy for users to click a link to jump to another location. It’s also simple to edit and remove hyperlinks …
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 | email@example.com