How to Measure Without a Tape Measure or Ruler

You can measure without a tape measure by using common items that you know the dimensions of

A tape measure is a vital tool in the toolkit, and many of us would feel lost without it. If you find yourself without a tape measure, maybe you lost it, forgot it, or simply don’t have one, then there is still hope! There are some tips and tricks to measuring without a ruler or tape measure.

If you don’t have a tape measure, then the key is to find something you do have that is a known dimension. If you know the dimension of any other object, then you have a makeshift ruler.

Common Measurements

Use these everyday objects to measure in place of a ruler or tape measure.

Printer Paper

A sheet of letter paper is exactly 8.5″ x 11″ (215.9mm x 279.4mm), and a sheet of legal paper is exactly 8.5″ x 14″ (215.9mm x 355.6mm). Use the short edge or the long edge as needed.

Keep in mind that craft paper or other non-standard size paper will not be the standard letter size and cannot be used unless you have the exact dimensions of the paper(hint: it may be on the package).

Dollar Bill

A dollar bill measures 2.61” x 6.14” and can be used to make simple measurements

A dollar bill is 2.61” x 6.14” (66.3mm x 156mm) and is something you likely have in your pocket. Keep in mind that a dollar bill is just over 6″ long and not exactly 6″. You can also easily turn a dollar bill into a ruler to make shorter measurements.


A quarter is .955” in diameter and can be used for short measurments

If you’re short on bills but have some change, look for a quarter. A quarter is .955” (24.26mm) in diameter and is great for shorter measurements.

Credit Card

Credit cards are 2.125” x 3.370”

If you don’t have any money, but you have a credit card, then consider that credit cards are a standard size as well. A credit card measures 2.125” x 3.370” (53.98mm x 85.6mm).

Print a Ruler

Print a paper ruler to take measurements when you don't have a tape measure or ruler

If you own a printer, then you can actually print out a very accurate ruler or tape measure. See our printable 60″ tape measure or our 12″/30cm printable ruler.

Your Phone

While every phone is different, it’s likely that you’re using it right now, which means you can do a quick search to get the dimensions of your specific device. Keep in mind that the dimensions won’t include the case, so you’ll need to remove it if you need an accurate measurement.

There’s an App for That

Believe it or not, you can actually download an app to measure items by taking a photo. Check out the EasyMeasure app.

If you’re measuring a room, then check out the RoomScan app, which can measure your space and create a blueprint of your home.

Your Arms and Feet

If you literally have nothing with you, then you can at least use your body to make some close measurements. The average person measures 15-18″ from the tips of their fingers to their elbows, and the average foot is 10-12″.

These tricks work great when you’re in a pinch, but if you’re planning ahead, then consider picking up a tape measure.

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