The inspiration for writing about the common sizes of everyday things came from an experience with airline’s baggage policy. Recently I was abroad and I needed to pack for a return flight, as I wasn’t at home and I only had only one old, worn-out suitcase I wasn’t sure if I’d fit the airline’s baggage policy. The inspiration to use some everyday things struck finally and I began looking for internet guides about the most common things you usually have in your household and their respective sizes. Finding no object that I could have in a hotel room, I decided to make my guide, which may be helpful for other people. Please be advised that this is a guide that wants to serve as a size estimator by using common things that may vary in dimension!
Common sizes of pocket items
Wondering what items you have in your pockets are X inches or feet long? Let’s get through some of the most common:
Sizes of U.S. dollar bills and coins
Most of the U.S. dollar currency bills have been changed in 1928 to the size we are familiar with today. This is known as the “small size” bills, as they were bigger before that. All bills are the same size, irrespective of denomination, that is 6.14 length × 2.61 width × 0.0043 thickness, in inches. In metric, that is 156 × 66.3 × 0.11 mm.
With coins that’s a different story because they vary in size. I think that the best way to measure an inch without a ruler is by using the Quarter Dollar Coin, which is 0.955 inch in diameter or the Dollar Coin with 1.043 inches in diameter.
- To measure 1 foot you need roughly 2 (1.95) dollar bills lined by length;
- To measure 5 feet you need roughly 10 dollar bills lined by length;
- To measure 10 feet you need roughly 20 dollar bills lined by length;
- A U.S. quarter dollar measures about 1 inch in diameter, so 12 of them will make roughly a foot.
You should use these estimations carefully because it’s impossible to get them perfectly lined up as the bills might be worn out or cut.
Using your cards as a ruler
This is a great idea as cards are solid, and you probably have a couple of them in your wallet. A standard credit card or gift card or loyalty card measures 3.5 inches wide by 2 inches long, more specifically 3.37 by 2.12 in.
Keep in mind that not all cards have the same size, business cards for example can be narrower or bigger but this credit card on the right uses the standard dimensions of any bank, Walmart gift card, even some ID cards.
Using your phone as a ruler
This is a great idea because you can find the information very easily on the internet or in your phone’s manual book. I’ve put together a small guide with the most common models in the U.S.:
- Apple iPhone SE measures 5.45 x 2.65 x 0.29 inches (or 138.4 x 67.3 x 7.3 mm);
- Apple iPhone XR measures 5.94 x 2.98 x 0.33 inches (or 150.9 x 75.7 x 8.3 mm);
- Apple iPhone 11 measures 5.94 x 2.98 x 0.33 inches (or 150.9 x 75.7 x 8.3 mm);
- iPhone 11 Pro Max measures 6.22 x 3.06 x 0.32 inches (or 158 x 77.8 x 8.1 mm);
- Apple iPhone 8 measures 5.45 x 2.65 x 0.29 inches (or 138.4 x 67.3 x 7.3 mm);
- Samsung Galaxy S10 measures 5.90 x 2.77 x 0.31 inches (or 149.9 x 70.4 x 7.8 mm);
- Galaxy S10+ measures 6.20 x 2.92 x 0.31 inches (or 157.6 x 74.1 x 7.8 mm);
- Galaxy S10e measures 5.60 x 2.75 x 0.31 inches (or 142.2 x 69.9 x 7.9 mm);
- Samsung Galaxy S8 measures 5.86 x 2.68 x 0.31 inches (or 148.9 x 68.1 x 8 mm);
- Galaxy S8+ is 6.28 x 2.89 x 0.32 inches (or 159.5 x 73.4 x 8.1 mm).
Common sizes of household items
We shouldn’t limit to what you have in your pockets, let’s see a couple of items that most of us have in our homes.
Standard sizes of paper (international)
The ISO 216 standard defines the dimensions of the A paper sizes, which is the international paper size format. In the U.S., Canada, and other regions there are different standards. Below there is the visual representation of the A format and a table with dimensions in both mm and in.
One thing that you should know is that every A paper size, or better said, any ISO paper uses a predefined aspect ratio of 1:4142, what that means? You may find it simple to enlarge or reduce a document for printing on another ISO paper format, on the North American scale you have to pretty much guess or adapt the papers.
- A0 is 33.1 x 46.8 inches or 841 x 1189 mm;
- A1 is 23.4 x 33.1 inches or 841 x 1189 mm;
- A2 is 16.5 x 23.4 inches or 420 x 594 mm;
- A3 is 11.7 x 16.5 inches or 297 x 420 mm;
- A4 is 8.3 x 11.7 inches or 210 x 297 mm, Width x Height;
- A5 is 5.8 x 8.3 inches or 148 x 210 mm;
- A6 4.1 x 5.8 inches or 105 x 148 mm;
- A7 is 2.9 x 4.1 inches or 74 x 105 mm;
- A8 is 2.0 x 2.9 inches or 52 x 74 mm;
- A9 is 1.5 x 2.0 inches or 37 x 52 mm.
Standard sizes of paper in the United States and Canada
Even though the North American format is based on traditional paper formats, we use arbitrary aspect ratios. Little is known about why America uses these formats, but here they are:
|Format||Width × Length (in)||Width × Lengtht (mm)|
|Junior Legal||8 x 5||203 x 127|
|Letter||8.5 x 11||216 x 279|
|Legal||8.5 x 14||216 x 356|
|Tabloid||11 x 17||279 x 432|
Image Courtesy of Swiftpublisher
Cool, so how are those dimensions useful for me?
- You can take a 11in Letter paper and put a 1in quarter coin and voila, you have a foot;
- You can put 2 Legal letters in a line by their width and you have 14×2=28 inches.
Common sizes of plastic bottles
You may use a plastic bottle to measure dimensions, below you’ll find the most common plastic bottles sold in the U.S.. Keep in mind that bottles vary in dimensions so the best is to use a bottle that has defined dimensions, like a Coke bottle, or a beer can.
- a 16 ounces beer can measures 6.75 inches tall;
- a 12 ounces aluminium can measures 4.75 inches tall;
- a 8 fl oz. Cola glass bottle measures 5 inches tall by 2.25 in. in diameter;
- a 16.9 oz. bottle is 8″ tall and is 2.5″ in diameter.
Knowing this common object’s dimensions may be useful to you for your estimate purposes.
Sizes of various items in your home
A postcard (if you still have one around) has defined size by the U.S. Postal Service as follows:
|Length x Height (in)||Length x Height (mm)||Thickness (in)||Thickness (mm)|
|Maximum||6.0 x 4.25 in||152.4 x 107.9 mm||0.016 in||0.406 mm|
|Minimum||5.0 x 3.5 in||127.0 x 88.9 mm||0.007 in||0.178 mm|
This is particularly useful because if you have 2 big postcards (6in long), that equals 1 foot!
A pen usually has around 5.51 inches long, keep in mind that these sizes can differ depending on the manufacturer.
AA and AAA battery sizes
- AA battery measures about 1.94~1.99 inches in length and has a diameter of 0.53~0.57 in. In metric, 50 x 14 mm;
- AAA battery measures 1.75 inches in length by 0.40 inches in diameter, which is 10.5 by 0.8 mm.