The Metric System An easy guide 




SI (which is the abbreviation in many languages for Systeme International d'Unites) is an extension and refinement of the traditional metric system. It has features which make it logically superior to any other system as well as practically more convenient; it is rational, coherent and comprehensive.
The main features of SI are as follow:
1. There are six basic units (see below), the metre and kilogramme taking the place of the centimetre and gramme of the old metric system.
2. The unit of force, the newton (kg m s^{2}) is independent of the Earth's gravitation, and the often confusing introduction, in some branches of science and technology, of g into equations is no longer necessary.
3. The unit of energy in all forms is the joule (newton x metre), and of power the joule per second (watt); thus the variously defined calories, together with the kilowatt hour, the Btu and the horsepower are all superseded.
4. 'Electrostatic' and 'electromagnetic' units are replaced by SI electrical units.
5. Multiples of units are normally to be restricted to steps of a thousand and similarly fractions to steps of a thousandth.



length 
metre 

mass 
kilogramme 

time 
second 

electric current 
ampere 

thermodynamic temperature 
degree Kelvin 

luminous intensity 
candela 

Symbols for units do NOT take a plural form



plane angle 
radian 

solid angle 
steradian 




definition of unit 
energy 
joule 

kg m^{2}/s^{2} 
force 
newton 

kg m/s^{2} = J/m 
power 
watt 

kg m^{2} /s^{3} = J/s 
electric charge 
coulomb 

A s 
electric potential difference 
volt 

kg m^{2}/s^{3} A = J/As 
electric resistance 
ohm 

W kgm^{2}/s^{3}A^{2} = V/A 
electric capacitance 
farad 

A^{2} s^{4} 1kg m^{2} = A s/V 
magnetic flux 
weber 

kgm^{2}/s^{2}A = Vs 
inductance 
henry 

kg m^{2} /s^{2} A^{2} = V s/A 
magnetic flux density 
tesla 

kg/s^{2} A^{2}= V s/m^{2} 
luminous flux 
lumen 

cd sr 
illumination 
lux 

cd sr/m^{2} 
frequency 
hertz 

1/second 
customary temperature 
degree Celsius 

t/^{0}C = T/K273.15 
conductance 
siemen 

A/V 



area 
square metre 
m^{2} 
volume 
cubic metre 
m^{3} 
density 
kilogramme per cubic metre 
kg/m3 
velocity 
metre per second 
m/s 
angular velocity 
radian per second 
rad/s 
acceleration 
metre per second squared 
m/s^{2} 
pressure 
newton per square metre 
N/m^{2} 
dynamic viscosity 
newton second per square metre 
N s/m^{2} 
electric field strength 
volt per metre 
V/m 
magnetic field strength 
ampere per metre 
A/m 
luminance 
candela per square metre 
cd/m^{2} 
In the metric system of measurements, the principal unit for length is the metre; the principal unit for capacity, the litre; and the principal unit for weight, the gramme. The following prefixes are used for fractions and multiples:













































*To be restricted to instances where there is a strongly felt need.
All the multiples and subdivisions are not used commercially. Those used ordinarily are:
 For length kilometre, metre,centimetre and millimetre
 For capacity, square metre, square centimetre and square millimetre
 For cubic measures, cubic metre, cubic decimetre (litre), cubic centimetre, and cubic millimetre.
 For weights, kilogramme and gramme.
Measures of length
10 millimetres (mm) = 1 centimetre (cm)
10 centimetres = 1 decimetre (dm)
10 decimetres = 1 metre (m)
1000 metres = 1 kilometre (km)
Square measure
100 square millimetres (mm^{2} ) = 1 square centimetre (cm^{2})
100 square centimetres = 1 square decimetre (dm^{2})
100 square decimetres = 1 square metre (m^{2})
Surveyor's square measure
100 square metres (m^{2}) = 1 are (ar)
100 ares = 1 hectare (har)
100 hectares = 1 square kilometre (km^{2})
Cubic measure
1000 cubic millimetres (mm3) = 1 cubic centimetre (cm^{3})
1000 cubic centimetres = 1 cubic decimetre (dm^{3})
1000 cubic decimetres = 1 cubic metre (m^{3})
Dry and liquid measure
10 millilitres (ml) = 1 centilitre (cl)
10 centilitres = 1 decilitre (dl)
10 decilitres = 1 litre (l)
100 litres = 1 hectolitre (hl)
1 litre = 1 cubic decimetre = the volume of 1 kilogramme of pure water at a temperature of 39.2^{0}F.
Measures of weight
10 milligrammes (mg) = 1 centigramme (cg)
10 centigrammes = 1 decigramme (dg)
10 decigrammes = 1 gramme (g)
1000 kilogrammes (kg) = 1 (metric) tonne (t)
Linear measure
1 kilometre = 0.621371 mile
1 metre = 3.28084 feet = 39.3701 inches = 1.09361 yards
1 centimetre = 0.393701 inch = 0.032808 feet
1 millimetre = 0.0393701 inch
1 micron (m) = (0.001 millimetre) = 0.00004 inch
1 mile = 1.609344 kilometres
1 yard = 0.9144 metre
1 foot = 0.3048 metre
1 foot = 304.8 millimetres
1 inch = 2.54 centimetres
1 inch = 25.4 millimetres
1 microinch = 0.025m
Square measure
1 square kilometre = 0.386102 square miles = 247.1 acres
1 hectare = 2.471 acres = 107,640 square feet
1 are = 0.0247 acre = 1076.4 square feet
1 square metre = 1550.00 square inches = 10.7639 square feet = 1.19599 square yards
1 square centimetre = 0.155000 square inch = 0.00107639 square feet
1 square millimetre = 0.00155000 square inch
1 square mile = 2.58999 square kilometres
1 acre = 0.4047 hectare = 40.47 ares
1 square yard = 0.836127 square metres
1 square foot = 0.0929030 square metre = 929.030 square centimetres
1 square inch = 6.4516 square centimetres = 645.16 square millimetres
Cubic measure
1 cubic metre = 35.315 cubic feet = 1.308 cubic yards
1 cubic metre = 264.2 US gallons = 219.969 Imperial gallons
1 cubic metre = 6.10237x104 cubic inch = 35.3147 cubic feet = 1.30795 cubic yards
1 cubic centimetre = 0.0610237 cubic inch = 3.53147x105 cubic foot
1 litre (cubic decimetre) = 0.0353157 cubic foot = 61.0255 cubic in.
1 litre = 0.2642 US gallon = 1.0567 US quarts = 0.2200 Imperial gallon
1 cubic yard = 0.764555 cubic metre
1 cubic foot = 0.02832 cubic metre = 28.317 litres
1 cubic inch = 16.38706 cubic centimetres = 16.3866 millilitres
1 Imperial gallon = 4.54609 litres
1 Imperial quart = 1.136 litres
1 US gallon = 3.785 litres
1 US quart = 0.946 litre
Weight
1 metric tonne = 0.9842 ton (of 2240 pounds) = 2204.6 pounds
1 kilogramme = 2.2046 pounds = 35.274 ounces avoirdupois
1 gramme = 0.03215 ounce troy = 0.03527 ounce avoirdupois
1 gramme = 15.432 grains
1 ton (of 2240 pounds) = 1.01605 metric tonnes = 1016.05 kilogrammes
1 pound = 0.4536 kilogramme = 453.6 gramme
1 ounce avoirdupois = 28.3495 grammes
1 ounce troy = 31.1035 gramme
1 grain = 0.0648 gramme
Various
1 kilogramme per square millimetre = 1422.32 pounds per sq.in.
1 kilogramme per square centimetre 14.223 pounds per sq. in.
1 kilogramme/metre = 7.233 foot/pounds
1 pound per square inch = 0.0703 kilogramme per square centimetre
1 calorie (kilogramme calorie) = 3.968 Btu (British thermal units)
1 kilojoule = 0.948 Btu
1 kilopond (kp) = 1 kilogramme
Last edited: 11/03/10
© Tangram Technology Ltd. 1999
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