Home Painting Inches Are Written With Fractions…Not Decimal Factors

Inches Are Written With Fractions…Not Decimal Factors


Okay, pet peeve arising! How do you write inches? Let’s say we’re speaking a couple of portray that’s 5 and a half inches by seven and three eighths inches. Do you write 5 1/2 x 7 1/8 in? Or do you write 5.5 x 7.125 inches? I hope you write the previous fairly than the latter. Why? As a result of inches are written with fractions!

In order that’s my pet peeve in a nutshell. (WARNING…some math stuff arising…😳)

Once we use a decimal level, we’re speaking about numbers with a base of 10. So 0.5 is 5 out of 10, 0.7 is seven out of 10, 0.01 is one out of 100.

With inches, we’re speaking a couple of base of two (fairly than 10). Inch fractions use denominators which might be powers of two and go as much as a sixty fourth of an inch. So fraction denominators shall be 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64 (eg 1/2, 3/4, 3/8, 5/16, 7/32, 11/64). You possibly can see there are not any tens concerned!

Consider a ruler that’s a foot lengthy. It’s made up of 12 inches. (Nonetheless no tens to be seen!) Every inch is often divided into 16 elements. So we are able to have 1/16 of an inch or 5/16 of an inch. If we’ve got 4/16 then that fraction turns into a 1/4. If we’ve got 8/16 that turns into a 1/2. We attempt to make the bottom equal fraction. (Keep in mind again to math class? Which may be troublesome I do know!) Anyway, you’ll be able to see we’re speaking about fractions. Not a decimal level in sight.

Inches are written in fractions: Tape measure with inches showing sixteenths
Tape measure with inches displaying sixteenths

So once I see somebody write “6.82 inches,” I believe, What does that imply? What does that seem like? I can’t discover it on a ruler so I’ve no visible image of what it’s.

Centimetres then again are divided into 10. A ruler may have every centimetre divided into 10 elements (10 millimetres). So if I see 6.7 cm, I can visualise that on a ruler. The decimal level exhibits seven out of 10 elements.

Inches are written as fractions: Ruler with centimetres
Ruler with centimetres

You possibly can in fact create a decimal from a fraction. Actually, fractional inches are restricted whereas decimal inches are limitless. BUT as an artist fairly than an engineer or an individual in construction-land, I don’t want limitless. I would like a measurement I can visualise. And historically, inches are written with fractions and I can visually conjure these up as I’ve been introduced up utilizing inches.

So the query is, why do individuals write inches with a decimal level? Properly it’s a heck of loads simpler that’s for certain! Simply pop a decimal level in and voila!

(A facet word: I guess lots of these decimalised inches aren’t even right! Need to know methods to make an accurate decimal out of a fraction? See the video I’ve posted on the finish.) 

Fractions are a proper ache so it’s simple to grasp that an individual may need to keep away from them. However the actuality is, inches include fractions!

Gawd that’s an terrible lot of numbers for an artwork weblog however I wanted to get this peeve off my chest! So let’s take a look at a few photos.

I’ve been getting ready for our Artwork session within the IGNITE! Membership (the place we take a look at work associated to the month’s theme) and I’ve been cruising across the Artwork Gallery of Ontario. Measurements are written each in centimetres and in inches and every notation seems fairly completely different – the centimetres are written with a decimal level, the inches with fractions.

Listed here are a few examples:

Emily Carr, "Untitled," 1929, oil on canvas, 108.6 x 68.9 cm (42 3/4 x 27 1/8 in), Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Emily Carr, “Untitled,” 1929, oil on canvas, 108.6 x 68.9 cm (42 3/4 x 27 1/8 in), Artwork Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

You’ll discover that some museums give dimensions solely in inches or centimetres fairly than each however they’ll be written as they need to be: inches are written with fractions whereas centimetres use a decimal level. (Some galleries word the measurements in millimetres which suggests no decimal level…simply numbers.)

I believe it will be an ideal concept to embrace the metric system as there are NO fractions (that are fairly ughy so it’s no marvel there’s a pattern by artists to put in writing fractions of inches with a decimal level). Within the metric system, there are solely entire numbers. However for some us introduced up within the feet-and-inches world, it’s more durable to visualise measurements in centimetres (and metres and millimetres). Nonetheless, I encourage you to maneuver into the metric world!! I’m attempting.  

Within the meantime, please, if writing about dimensions in inches, use fractions fairly than a decimal level!

Proper. That’s me off my soapbox. I’d LOVE to listen to your opinions about this entire style of writing inches as fractions. Do you write inches with fractions or a decimal level? Let me know your ideas!

Till subsequent time,

~ Gail

PS. Right here’s the Hare Examine as a complete:

PPS. I received curious concerning the origins of the time period “pet peeve.” Curious? Then click on HERE.

PPPS. Right here’s an ideal wee video on methods to go from fractions to decimals and again once more!


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