How to Change the Ruler Measurement Unit in Microsoft Word

318767 How to Change the Ruler Measurement Unit in Microsoft Word

Knowing how to change the default measurement unit for rulers, margins, tabs, and more in Word can help you format documents exactly the way you need. Follow this simple tutorial to switch the units used across your Word documents from the default inches to centimeters, millimeters, points, picas, or something else.

Access Advanced Setting to Change Units

The display settings that control the measurement units used in Word are found in the Advanced settings area. Here’s how to access those:

  1. Click the File tab on the Word toolbar, then choose Options
  2. When the Word Options dialog box opens, click Advanced in the left sidebar
  3. In the Display section, find the option labeled Show measurements in units of
  4. Click the drop-down menu next to this setting to see the available units

Select New Unit from Drop-down Menu

Once you’ve accessed the advanced settings, you can pick your preferred unit:

  • Inches
  • Centimeters
  • Millimeters
  • Points
  • Picas

For example, to switch to centimeters as the default measurement unit instead of inches, you would choose Centimeters from the drop-down menu.

The new measurement unit you select will immediately be applied across all current and new Word documents.

New Units Apply Globally

Once you save the change, the ruler, all margin settings, tab stops, and any other element in Word that uses a measurement length will now display using the new units you picked.

For example, if you switch to centimeters:

  • The ruler will be marked in cm instead of inches
  • Default margins will change from 1 inch to 2.54 cm
  • Tab stops will shift from 0.5 inches to 1.27 cm

The change applies globally to all open or new Word documents. You won’t need to adjust the units on a per-document basis.

Display Ruler if Hidden

If the ruler is not displayed at the top of your document, you’ll need to turn it on to see the updated measurement units:

  1. Go to the View tab on the toolbar
  2. Check the box for Ruler in the Show section
  3. The ruler will now be displayed using the new units

Change Units Back to Inches

You can always return the measurement units to inches following the same steps:

  1. Navigate to Advanced display settings
  2. Choose Inches from the drop-down menu
  3. The ruler, margins, tabs, and all other elements will revert to inches

It’s simple to toggle between measurement units anytime by accessing the Advanced display options.

Examples of Measurement Unit Changes

Seeing some examples can help illustrate how the units switch when you change the setting:

MeasurementInches SettingCM Setting
RulerMarked in inchesMarked in CM
Margins1 inch2.54 CM
Tab stops0.5 inches1.27 CM
Paper size8.5 x 11 inches21.59 x 27.94 CM

As you can see, switching the units changes all size-based elements in Word documents.

Who Should Change Measurement Units

Changing the default measurement units is especially helpful if:

  • You work with international documents – Projects with a global audience may require dimensions in centimeters rather than inches.
  • Your industry uses the metric system – Science, tech, and other fields often rely on the metric system rather than imperial units.
  • Your regional settings differ from the default – The defaults tend to cater to the US, so adjusting makes sense in other places.
  • Consistency is important – Keeping the same units across all documents removes confusion and errors.

In these cases, taking the time to update the units pays off in the long run by optimizing Word for your specific needs and workflow.

Troubleshooting Problems

In some cases, you may run into issues after switching measurement units, such as:

  • Ruler markings seem off – A display bug may occur causing the ruler to show the wrong increments in the new units. Close and reopen the document to reset the view.
  • Margins change dramatically – If 1 inch margins become tiny in centimeters, go back and check that you chose the units you intended.
  • Tabs, columns, or tables shift – These elements may need minor tweaking if the unit change significantly alters spacing and layout.

Fortunately, these problems are rare and easy to reverse by double-checking your settings or closing and reopening documents.

Key Takeaways

Switching the measurement units in Word from inches to metric or other units is straightforward:

  • Access the Advanced display settings through File > Options
  • Use the drop-down to change to centimeters, millimeters, etc
  • New units apply globally to all documents
  • Ruler, margins, tabs, and more will adjust to the new display units
  • You can toggle back and forth between units easily

Adjusting these settings helps Word match your personal workflow, industry standards, or regional requirements related to dimensions.

Hopefully this gives you the guidance needed to successfully change the ruler units in Word to centimeters, millimeters, or any others required for your projects. Let us know if you have any other questions!

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