Correctly noting height in writing is crucial for clear communication across various contexts. Different style guides offer distinct prescriptions for how to denote height, each aiming to maintain consistency and avoid ambiguity.

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Chicago Manual of Style Recommendations

The Chicago Manual of Style suggests spelling out height measurements completely to ensure clarity. For example, one might write, “At five foot one, he was as thin as a rail.” This method eliminates confusion and maintains a formal tone.

Use of Hyphens to Avoid Ambiguity

When height is used as an adjective, hyphens are recommended. For example, “His five-foot-two-inch body was thin as a rail.” This notation keeps the description concise while being clear to the reader.

Alternative Notation with Numbers

Using numbers to denote height is another common method: “He was 5’2″ and small for his age.” It’s important to ensure no spaces are placed between the number and the inch or foot mark to maintain clarity and uniformity.

“2017 Student Summit on Climate Change – Joshua tree Monitoring Project – Students measure the height of a Joshua tree” by Joshua Tree National Park is marked with Public Domain Mark 1.0. To view the terms, visit https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/mark/1.0/.

Consistency is Key

Regardless of the style chosen, maintaining consistency throughout a document is paramount. Mixing different styles in one piece can confuse readers and undermine the professional quality of the writing.

Variety of Styles

Different publishers may prefer different styles for documenting height. While there is no absolute right or wrong way, adhering strictly to the chosen style guideline is essential. This ensures that the writing remains clear and professional.

Symbols and Abbreviations

Feet Abbreviations

There are two primary abbreviations for feet:

  • ft. (e.g., 4 ft.)
  • Single apostrophe (′) (e.g., 4′)

Inches Abbreviations

Similarly, inches can be noted with:

  • in. (e.g., 10 in.)
  • Double apostrophe (″) (e.g., 10″)

“2017 Student Summit on Climate Change – Joshua tree Monitoring Project – Students measure the height of a Joshua tree” by Joshua Tree National Park is marked with Public Domain Mark 1.0. To view the terms, visit https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/mark/1.0/.

Examples of Writing Feet and Inches

Feet

Examples include:

  • 5 ft.
  • 5′

Inches

Examples include:

  • 60 in.
  • 60″

Common Style Guidance

Maintaining consistency in your choice of style is essential. It may be practical to consult any style guide or rules provided by your employer or publication for guidance.

Writing Feet and Inches in Different Style Guides

Chicago Manual of Style (CMS)

The CMS advises on a clear, sometimes verbose approach: “The woman was five feet seven inches tall,” and recommends no spaces after foot or inch symbols: “She was 5′7″ in height.” Hyphenated shorter forms like “five-seven” are also used.

Associated Press (AP) Style

In US journalism, AP Style utilizes figures and hyphens. Basic rules include:

  • Always spell out measurements: “inches”, “feet”, etc.
  • Use figures consistently: “4 inches”, “9 feet”.
  • Use hyphens when describing someone: “the six-foot-four man”.
  • Use apostrophes in technical contexts.

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.

Summary

Understanding how to write measurements in feet and inches is fundamental to clear, professional writing. While different style guides offer specific rules, adhering to the chosen system is essential for consistency. This ensures that the communication is clear and avoids any potential misunderstanding, enhancing the writing’s accuracy and professionalism.

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