Women's Shoe: How to Find the Proper Shoe Width

Do You Need Narrow, Average, Wide, or Extra-Wide?

Woman wearing high heels
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There's more to your shoe size than just the length of your feet. For a proper fit, you must also take into account their width. The most reliable way to gauge your foot's width, of course, is to measure it. Here's how:

  1. Tape a piece of paper to the floor to prevent it from sliding, and stand on it.
  2. Trace the outline of your foot with a pencil. Hold it as perpendicular to the paper as possible. 
  3. Flip the paper over, tape it back down, and trace your other foot.
  4. Untape the paper and place it on a table or other flat surface that you can see easily.
  5. Measure the width of both feet at their widest points on the paper and mark the numbers down. Don't have a ruler with 16th-inch measurements? Print one out here.
  6. Subtract about 1/4 inch (4/16 inch or 1/2 centimeter) from each of the two widths you've measured. (That's about the width of the pencil or pen you used.) Write down the largest width.
  7. Using these measurements, consult the chart below. Begin with your shoe size, and find the corresponding width measurement to determine whether your feet are considered narrow, average, wide, or extra wide. 
  8. Note the letter that corresponds to your foot's width.
U.S. Shoe Size Narrow Average Wide X-Wide
5 2-13/16" 3-3/16" 3-9/16" 3-15/16"
5.5 2-14/16" 3-1/4" 3-10/16" 4"
6 2-15/16" 3-5/16" 3-11/16" 4-1/16"
6.5 3" 3-3/16" 3-3/4" 4-2/16"
7 3-1/16" 3-7/16" 3-13/16" 4-3/16"
7.5 3-2/16" 3-1/2" 3-14/16" 4-1/4"
8 3-3/16" 3-9/16" 3-15/16" 4-5/16"
8.5 3-1/4" 3-10/16" 4" 4-3/16"
9 3-5/16" 3-11/16" 4-1/16" 4-7/16"
9.5 3-3/16" 3-3/4" 4-2/16" 4.5
10 3-7/16" 3-13/16" 4-3/16" 4-9/16"
10.5 3-1/2" 3-14/16" 4-1/4" 4-10/16"
11 3-9/16" 3-15/16" 4-5/16" 4-11/16"
11.5 3-10/16" 4" 4-3/16" 4-3/4"
12 3-11/16" 4-1/16" 4-7/16" 4-13/16"
12.5 3-3/4" 4-2/16" 4.5 4-14/16"
13 3-13/16" 4-3/16" 4-9/16" 4-15/16"
13.5 3-14/16" 4-1/4" 4-10/16" 5"
14 3-15/16" 4-5/16" 4-11/16" 5-1/16"
Women's U.S Sizes/Widths in Inches

Translating Your Foot Width Into the Proper Letter Measurement

Shoe manufacturers usually denote widths with letters, as follows:

  • Narrow = "AA"
  • Average = "B" or "M" (for "medium)
  • Wide = "D"
  • Extra wide = "EE"

Thus, if your shoe size is 7 and your foot width is 3-7/16", it's considered average (or medium) width, so you'd buy a size 7B or 7M shoe.

About Non-Standard Sizes

The above are standard widths, but some manufacturers offer shoes in sizes that are wider or narrower. You might see combinations of letters and numbers. For example, "EEEE" (or "4E") indicates a width that's wider than standard extra wide. A good (but general) rule of thumb: There's about a .38" difference between widths. Thus, a  wide ("D" size) shoe is about .38" wider than a "B." An "EEE" is somewhere around .76" wider than an "E" ("E" + .38" + .38").

Tips for Accurate Measurement

To get the best fit for the width of your foot:

  • Wait until the end of the day to measure. Feet tend to swell as the day goes on, and you should base your size on your feet at their widest.
  • Put on the socks you plan to wear for the type of shoes you're thinking of buying. Socks can add thickness and take up room, making your shoes feel tighter than if you weren't wearing any.
  • Measure your feet as you're standing, not sitting. Your body weight makes your feet spread a bit. Ideally, have someone measure your feet so you can place your full weight on your feet.

A Few Things to Keep in Mind

Try shoes on whenever possible before you buy them. Many factors can affect the way they fit, including:

  • Materials and embellishments
  • Manufacturing techniques
  • Styles and designs
  • Height of arches
  • The relative sizes of your heel, arch, and toes
  • The top-to-bottom thickness of your instep (the part of your foot between the ball and the ankle)

Most children's shoes do not come in variable widths.