How to Measure Your Feet for Shoes

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The Right Size Is the Key to Comfort

You probably know your shoe size—or at least, you think you do. Your foot size can change over time, though, and even with the time of day. Wearing the wrong size shoes can cause blisters, abrasions, pain, long-term injury, and even back issues. Sure, you can try them on in the store, but without measurements, you might not even realize you should consider a larger or smaller shoe than what you're buying. Plus, a lot of great styles are available online, but, of course, you can't try before you buy. All this makes getting an accurate foot size measurement more important than ever.

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You Don't Need a Brannock Device

Medidor Brannock
Foto © Brannock Device Co., Inc.

Figuring out your shoe size at home isn't difficult. In fact, it's very easy to measure your feet without using any special equipment. Then, you just apply the result to a manufacturer's size chart to find a proper fit.

Remember, though: Feet are three-dimensional, and most size charts only account for two of those dimensions. In the end, you won't know if you have the precise size you need until you try the shoes on and walk in them a bit.

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What You'll Need

Tape Down Paper to Measure for Shoe Size

You won't require anything special to get an accurate shoe size measurement, just:

  • A chair
  • Socks
  • Two pieces of paper that larger than your feet
  • A pencil, pen, or marker
  • Tape
  • A ruler or measuring tape

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Trace Your Feet

Tracing the outline of your feet

Put on a pair of socks similar to those you plan to wear with the shoes you're buying. Then:

  1. Tape the paper down to the floor.
  2. Sit on the chair and plant one foot firmly on the floor, with your leg bent slightly forward so that your shin is just in front of your ankle.
  3. Trace the outline of your foot, holding the pencil upright and perpendicular to the paper. Don't hold it at an angle: You'll end up tracing under your foot and will get an inaccurate measurement. Make sure the pencil is aligned snugly against your foot as you trace.
  4. Use your pencil to mark the widest and longest parts of your feet.
  5. Repeat for the other foot. (Most people's feet are slightly different lengths and widths. For some people, that difference could be a half or whole shoe size.)

You may find it helpful to have someone else trace your feet.

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Measure the Length of Your Feet

Measure from the top to the bottom line to find the length of each foot

Use a ruler to measure the length of your foot tracing. Find the closest mark that you can on your ruler; for inches, use the closest 16th mark. Don't round up or down too drastically.

Write the measurement down and measure your other foot.

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Measure the Width of Your Feet

Measure the distance from one side of your tracing to the other to find your shoe width.

Shoe size is more just one measurement; width is also an important factor. Though widths vary slightly from size to size, the numerical shoe size really addresses only the length of the foot.

Knowing your shoe width can make a world of difference when it comes to finding comfortable footwear. Many people need narrow or wide shoes, so this step is just as important as the last. The width of a shoe is denoted by a letter after the numerical size of the shoe (for example, "7B"). Like shoe sizes, women's and men's width designations are different.

Use a ruler to measure the widest parts of your feet on the tracings. Again, use the closest mark that you can (usually, 1/16th of an inch).

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How to Use Your Measurements

Shoe size measuring device

Use the largest of your measurements to determine your shoe size.

For example, if your left foot is 1/4 inch longer, then use your left foot's length measurement. If your right foot is slightly wider, then use that number as your width.

After you have the length and width, subtract 3/16 of an inch from each of those numbers. This is to account for the small space between your foot and the line made by the pencil.

These final numbers are your actual foot measurements.

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Consult Shoe Size Charts

Convert your measurements to the appropriate size and width using the links below.

Women's Shoe Widths and Sizes

Men's Shoe Widths and Sizes

In addition, it's a good idea to check out size charts from the manufacturer of the shoe you're going to buy. You usually can find these on the manufacturer's or retailer's site.