How to Measure Height Accurately?

Measuring height has been a part of childhood for all of us. We all have memories of our parents or older siblings checking our height. And now we have to do it for our kids or younger siblings, and sometimes for ourselves.

Measuring your height is such a basic activity that we tend to take it for granted.

We just do not realize that there are some ‘right’ ways of measuring the height and that not following them can lead to errors in the measurement.

If you have a small kid in your family, you need to learn the right ways to check his height so that you are able to monitor his growth in a correct manner.

Read on to know how height is measured and the common errors that may occur during the measurement. We will also have a look at how to avoid these errors so that you can get a perfect measurement of your child’s, your siblings’, or your own height.

Measurement of height at the doctor’s clinic

When your visit a doctor’s clinic, it is likely that your height will be measured as a part of the routine check-up. Most pediatricians check the height of all young children visiting them.

The height along with other parameters like the child’s weight and head circumference provide a reliable indicator of the child’s overall growth and development.

In a doctor’s clinic, a child is asked to stand next to a device known as a stadiometer. The stadiometer is nothing but a long ruler that is attached to the wall. The device has a sliding horizontal headpiece, which can be adjusted up and down such that it rests on the top of the child’s head.

The exact point where the horizontal headpiece touches the mark on the ruler provides the measurement of the child’s height.

It is a very easy and quick way to measuring the height accurately.

The height and other parameters are then marked on the child’s growth chart. A comparison is made between the child’s current height and the previous height to assess the growth that has occurred since the earlier visit.

The growth chart also has divisions that help to categorize the child’s height into different progressions. So, the child’s height can be placed within a specific range on the growth chart based on which his or her growth and approximate height in the future can be predicted.

The growth chart basically provides a view of the possible trajectory of the child’s growth, both in the past and the future. 

If a child falls below or much higher than the normal range of height for the age, the doctor might recommend tests and treatments to detect and correct the underlying problems.

Most of you must have already had your height measured in this manner. It is advisable to have your child’s height measured at the doctor’s clinic during each visit or routine health check-up in order to monitor his growth.

Stadiometers are commonly used at doctor’s clinics to measure the heights of patients.

But, what if you need to measure your height at home? Is there any way to do so accurately and in an easy way? Can you measure your height if you do not have anyone to assist you? And how do you measure the height of someone else at home? These are some questions that need to be answered so that you learn the right ways to measure height.

Let’s find answers to these questions by beginning with how to measure your own height, both with and without help. If you want to check your height in both meters and feet, we have got that too for you.

How to measure your own height if you have someone to help?

To measure your height accurately with someone’s help, you can follow these steps:

  1. Find an uncarpeted and flat section of the floor that is in immediate contact with a flat section of the wall.
  2. Now, take off your shoes or slipper or any footwear you are wearing.
  3. Remove headbands, braids, or anything else you are wearing on your head as these things can add to your height and get in your way of the accurate measurement of your height.
  4. Remove any bulky clothing that can make it difficult for you to stand flat and firmly against the wall.
  5. Now, stand close to the wall with the soles of your feet touching the floor firmly. Your heels should touch the corner where the floor meets the wall. Make sure your head, buttocks, and shoulders are in contact with the wall.
  6. Stand straight with your eyes looking in the front. Your chin and the line of sight should be parallel to the floor.
  7. Now, have someone place a flat object such as a ruler against the wall at a right angle. This implies that the ruler should be parallel to the floor.
  8. Now, lower the ruler gently until it rests on the top of your head gently while keeping it at the right angle to the wall.
  9. Mark the point on the wall where the ruler touches it using a pencil. The point should be in line with where the ruler or the flat object you are using touches your head.
  10. Once the point is marked, you can bend down and move yourself away from the wall.
  11. Now, use a tape to measure the distance between the point you have marked and the floor.
  12. Ideally, a metal tape that can remain straight would be the best to measure the height with this method. It is best to avoid using lax or foldable tapes.
  13. Make a note of the measurement of your height to the nearest 0.1 of a centimeter or 1/8th of an inch.

To measure someone else’s height, just switch the positions and follow the same steps. Let the other person stand in your place in the same manner and you be the one holding the ruler to measure his height.

How to measure your height without anyone’s help?

If you want to measure your own height without anyone’s help, you need to be a little more careful as you yourself will have to ensure you are standing correctly and that your gaze is straight.

Also, you might find it a bit difficult to place the ruler correctly on the top of your head such that it is parallel to the floor.

Getting away from the wall while still holding the ruler in place can also be a bit of a challenge while measuring your own height.

But, following certain methods will help you avoid these mistakes and challenges and enable you to measure your height correctly.

Here are some ways to measure your own height without anyone’s help.  Basically, you just need to follow the same steps outlined above but with a few modifications as given below:

Find alternatives to the ruler

Instead of using a ruler, you can use a box of cereal or any similar object to measure your own height.

When you hold your head against the wall while standing straight, you might find it difficult to place a ruler or any flat object against the wall. You will also have difficulties in keeping these objects on your head such that they are exactly straight and parallel to the floor.

Also, there are chances of the ruler or similar thin objects slipping from the point where you want to mark your height. So, once you move away from the wall, by the time you are able to mark the point where the ruler touches the wall at the height of your head, the ruler may have already moved from the position.

This can occur because you have to twist and turn yourself while moving away.

Also, your hand may move while you are turning due to which the position of the ruler may change.

This can lead to errors in the measurement of your height. The alternate method of using a cereal box works well in this case.

Since a cereal box is larger in width than the ruler, it provides a better grip. Also, it is easier to hold a cereal box in place than a ruler simply because while holding a box, your fingers and thumb will be apart. But when you are holding a flat ruler, your fingers and thumb will be pretty close to each other due to which you may not be able to hold it firmly.

So, holding a cereal box is considered a better choice than a ruler when you are measuring your own height without anyone’s help.

A cereal box is also less likely to slip from its position when you are trying to twist to move away from the wall. This is what makes a cereal box a better alternative to a ruler when measuring your own height.

But make sure the object you use is neither too heavy nor too light.

Using a very heavy object will prevent you from holding it with just your fingers. And if the object is too light, the other end you are not holding will keep moving down creating a slanting line when you mark the level where your head touches the wall.

So, it’s best to choose an object that is not too light and just heavy enough to allow you to hold it comfortably.

Stand in front of a mirror

Another important change you have to make while measuring your own height without anyone’s help is to stand in front of a mirror.

Choose a place in your house where you can stand on a flat floor close to the wall and even look at yourself in the mirror.

Standing facing a mirror will help you confirm that the cereal box or the headpiece you are holding is perfectly parallel to the floor. You can adjust the box by looking at yourself in the mirror so that there are no mistakes in the measurement of your height.

Marking the point

While measuring your own height, hold the box with one hand and use your other hand to mark the place or draw a line on the wall where the BOTTOM of the box touches the top of your head.

You can do so while still standing against the wall if you are comfortable with it.

Or else, you can hold the box firmly and step out from underneath to mark the point with one hand while still holding the box in place with the other hand.

You can use tape to measure the distance between the point or line you have marked and the floor to measure your height.

How to convert meters or centimeters to inches and feet or vice versa

Most people in the world use the metric system to measure lengths. Some countries, especially the United States, still use the imperial system to measure lengths in units like feet and inches.

Also, most measuring tapes have graduations in either feet and inches or centimeters. So, you might feel the need to covert the units based on your preference.

If you want to convert the unit from one to another, you can simply follow the rules given below:

If you want to convert your height to metric units, you can start by calculating the height in inches. So, a person who is say 5 feet, 8 inches tall will be 68 inches tall (1 foot = 12 inches).

Now, you can convert the inches into centimeters (1 inch = 2.54 centimeters).

You can make the conversion using a simple formula. Simply multiply the height in inches by 2.54 to convert the unit of your height from feet and inches to centimeters.

In this case, the height of a person who is 5 feet, 8 inches tall will be converted to 172.72 cm (69 x 2.54) in metric units.

What is the best time to measure height?

You will be surprised to know that a person’s height can change throughout the day, though only to a very small extent.

Usually, a person is at his tallest in the morning when he first wakes up and then, gradually loses some height during the course of the day.

While there is no best time to measure your height, as with monitoring your weight, it is advisable to be consistent with the time you measure it.

By taking the height measurement at the same time every day will help you eliminate the small differences that can occur due to the change in the height during different times of the day. Also, it is advisable to use the same methods and tools, including the measuring tape, to ensure accuracy.

Measuring the height based on a photograph

Measuring the height of a person based on a photograph seems to be impossible. But you can actually come close to getting a fair idea of the person’s height if the photograph offers an appropriate means for comparison.

Here is a method you can try if you want to measure the height of a person based on a photograph:

To measure the height of a person just based on a photograph requires you to study the photo carefully.

Start with making a mark on all the physical objects in the photo.

If you can locate other people in the photograph who are standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the person, that would be an additional advantage, especially if you know the heights of these people.

Then, based on their heights, you can make an educated guess about the height of your subject using common metrics.

For example; the average height of our head is about 8 to 9 inches (8.6 inches on average) in the 50th percentile.

So, if your subject looks a full head taller or shorter than another individual in the photograph, you can use it as a frame of reference for measuring the height.

Making detailed notes of the heights of people and objects in the photo is critical in this regard. 

Note the heights of all known objects in the photo for the visual frame of reference and calculate the height of your subject. A comparison of the heights calculated based on the height of each object or person will help you arrive at a more accurate measurement. [1]

What to interpret the measurement of your height?

Measuring your height does not end with just finding out how many inches or centimeters tall you are.

The idea is to learn to interpret the results so that you can adopt appropriate measures to eliminate any problem that could be affecting your growth and development.

In the United States, the CDC (the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) has reported that the average height of women is approximately 5 feet, 4 inches while the average height of men is approximately 5 feet, 9 inches. [2]

Also, the average height of men and women differs across different countries in the world.

For example, the average height of people in the Netherlands is much higher than that of most other countries. Some of the tallest men and women in the world are from this country. Also, Dutch women, on average, are around 5 feet, 6 inches tall, while Dutch men are nearly 6 feet in height, on average.

Conversely, in places like the Philippines, the average height of women is under 5 feet, while that of men is approximately 5 feet, 4 inches.

So, you need to interpret the results of your height in terms of the average height of men and women in your country of origin. This would give you a better idea of your overall growth and development.

In the case of children, the growth in terms of the improvement in the height needs to be assessed more carefully to detect any abnormality or disorder such as malnutrition or down syndrome. [3] [4]

Early detection of these conditions based on the variations from the expected height of the child can help to initiate timely treatment. This might help to avoid some of the effects of the condition on the child’s future growth.

Do you compare height by shoulders or head?

You can observe the difference in shoulder heights for comparing your height with that of others. It is an easy method to compare your height with that of another person by simply standing side by side and checking the difference between where your shoulder touches that of the other person.

What makes comparing the height by shoulder an easier method is it is more visible. You can simply stand close to each other and see who is taller and by how many inches.

It provides a fairly accurate estimation of the difference in the heights of 2 people.

You can also stand in front of the mirror to see the height difference. This is particularly recommended when the difference in the heights is negligible and just standing close to each other may not provide a fair idea of who is taller.

This method is commonly used to check who among the 2 people is taller. It can also be used to find the height of one person when the height of another is known.

For example; when you stand close to another person, who is 6 feet tall, and you find that you are shorter than him by about 2 inches, then, you can say that your height will be close to around 5 feet 10 inches.

Measuring your height by shoulders is a comparatively easier method that does not need the involvement of the third person.

Other than this, people with a shorter skull height or shorter neck often prefer this form of height measurement for obvious reasons as it provides a better estimation of their height. It allows their height to be considered taller than what it actually is by creating an error in estimation due to the abnormal ratio of their total height to their neck or head length.

However, measuring your height by shoulders is not considered an accurate method as it involves a higher possibility of errors.

Given that the head length varies among different people, finding your height by comparing it with that of another person at the shoulder level can provide a wrong estimate. Hence, this method is not always followed unless the more reliable methods of height comparison are not available or are difficult to follow.

Common mistakes that can occur while measuring your height

  • Not placing the ruler parallel to the floor
  • Slipping of the ruler or box from its position before you can mark its level
  • Standing on a surface that is uneven
  • Standing on a carpet or a floor that is not exactly flat
  • Forgetting to remove your shoes or slippers before measuring the height
  • Forgetting to remove your cap or hairbands before measuring your height
  • Standing in a stooping position or too erect by straightening your back excessively
  • Tilting your head upward or downward
  • Heels of your soles not touching the corner where the wall meets the floor
  • Incorrect conversion of the units from feet and inches to centimeters or vice versa [5]


Measuring the height forms fond memories of our childhood. You must still be having those memories fresh in your mind.

The giggling of your siblings, the gentle scolding by your parents to stand straight, and the appreciation for improvement in your height…. All of this makes measuring your height a fun exercise.

Apart from this, it is also a critical activity aimed at evaluating the child’s growth and development.

It can help in identifying any problem that could be affecting the child’s growth. So, whether you are measuring your own height, with or without help, or someone else’s height, make sure you follow the right method as discussed above and interpret the results correctly.