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How to Write Feet and Inches

Last update: 02 December 2021

There are two popular ways of writing feet: the abbreviation “ft.” or the single apostrophe (′). Inches can be represented using “in.” or with a double apostrophe (″). As an example, five feet, ten inches could be written as 5 ft. 10 in or 5′10″.

Let's take a more in-depth look at the different ways of writing feet and inches and the common style guidance. Note that if you're writing an article for an employer, it's worth checking if they prefer you stick to a particular style guide.

What is the symbol for feet?

Firstly, we can write the abbreviation for feet as “ft.” - for example, we would write 4 ft. Alternatively, you may also see a single apostrophe indicating feet - so 4′ = 4 ft. = four feet. “Ft” is the same abbreviation for both singular and plural forms, so one foot is written as 1 ft., and two feet is 2 ft.

Example

Five feet could be expressed in the following ways:

  • 5 ft.
  • 5′

What is the symbol for inches?

We can write inches as an abbreviation as “in”. So for ten inches, we would write 10 in. Or we can use a double apostrophe - so we write ten inches as 10″.

Example

Sixty inches could be expressed in the following ways:

  • 60 in.
  • 60″

Different styles for writing feet and inches

If you're writing something for publication, there isn't really a right or a wrong way to write measurements. But you should look to be consistent and use the same style throughout.

Writing feet and inches in the Chicago Manual style

The Chicago Manual of Style is most often used for academic writing. With this style, you spell out every word to avoid any ambiguity. For example, you would write, “The woman was five feet seven inches tall”. If you opt to use quotation marks, don't leave a space after the foot symbol - so you would write “She was 5′7″ in height”. If you're writing really short, you can include a hyphen. So, “five-seven." 1

Five feet seven inches can be written as 5′7″

Writing feet and inches in AP style

The Associated Press Stylebook is used by journalists writing for US newspapers and other media outlets. There are four basic rules for writing measurements in AP style:

  1. Write the measurement in full as inches, feet, etc.
  2. Always use figures before the measurement: for example, 4 inches, 9 feet, etc.
  3. Don't use hyphens when writing a person's height, except if it's describing them. Then you can write “the six-foot-four man”. Apostrophes are used to indicate feet and inches only in technical contexts.
  4. Use commas when talking about length and width. For example, the trailer is 24 feet long, 9 feet wide and 9 feet high.

Examples

  • She is 5 feet 4 inches tall.
  • The 5-foot-4-inch woman drove to work.
  • The swimming pool is 30 feet long, 15 feet wide and 6 feet deep.
  • The table measures 7 feet by 5 feet.
  • The 7-by-5 table fits nicely in the dining room.

Understanding the different ways of writing feet and inches will help you work more accurately with your next project. And when you're writing about measurements, clear, consistent communication is essential, so choose your style and stick with it!


Calculator references

  1. Chicago Manual of Style. Hyphens, En Dashes, Em Dashes. https://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org
  2. Associated Press Stylebook. https://www.apstylebook.com

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