If you’ve ever taken a look at a shoe size chart online, you’ve probably seen the sizes that correspond to each other across countries and a number that’s either presented in the form of centimetres or inches. This number is one of the most important metrics when it comes to picking the right shoe size.

To choose the right size and make sure that you’re comfortable with the shoes, you’ll need to gain a deeper understanding of the inches presented in the chart. Here’s what they signify and how they relate to the sizing information provided.

What does the Number in Inches Refer to?
The inches presented in the chart refer to the length of your foot. The length is taken from the highest point on the big toe to the middle of the heel.

To take an accurate measurement, it’s best to step on a piece of A4 paper. It can be your naked foot or you can have socks on to make the measurement a bit more accurate. Using a pen, draw an outline of your foot on the paper.

Now that you have the outline, use a ruler or a tape measure to determine the length from the big toe to the heel. This is the number that appears in the shoe size chart and the one you should be relying on to make an accurate selection.

In some instances, an additional measurement in inches will appear in the chart (or in a separate chart). This measurement represents the width of the foot in inches. Using a pencil mark out the widest part of the foot on the paper. This is the one you should be measuring. Having this number will help you determine whether narrower or wider shoes will feel more comfortable.

How Foot Length Correlates to Shoe Number
Armed with the information about the length of your foot, you can now pick the right shoe size.

You may come across some shoe size converters online but these aren’t the most reliable tools to go for. Very often, shoe brands have their specific numerations that vary slightly from the standard numbers. Thus, you want to apply the foot length in inches to the chart that the respective company has provided for sizing purposes.

Men’s shoe size charts start from a US number of 6 (a European number of 39 and a UK number of 5.5). This size corresponds to an inch measurement of 9.25 inches (23.5 centimeters). If the measurement is provided solely in centimeters, multiply the length of your foot by 2.54 and apply to the chart.

The biggest number on the men’s chart is 16 US (a 49 European or 15.5 UK). The shoe number corresponds to an inch measurement of 12.5 inches.

The situation is pretty much the same when it comes to shoes for women. The smallest number that female charts start with is 4, which corresponds to a 35 in Europe and a 2 in the UK. This smallest number is suitable for ladies whose leg length is 8.187 inches.

For women, the biggest number in the standard chart is 12 US (it corresponds to a 42/43 in Europe and a 10 in the UK). The size is suitable for women whose foot is 10.875 inches long.

The situation is pretty much the same for babies, toddlers and children. A foot measurement in inches will have to be taken and applied to the respective chart. In essence, this number in inches is the most accurate measure that can be used for the selection of the right size (even if you think that you know your number).

A Few Additional Considerations
When measuring the length of your foot in inches, you may find out that it falls between two of the numbers on the chart. In such instances, opt for the bigger one even if your measurement comes close to the smaller number.

When going for a smaller number, you risk either having a shoe that fits tightly or getting a shoe that you’ll find yourself incapable of walking in.

Some companies use specific sizing systems that differ in the increments used between shoe sizes. This is why some companies may offer full and half sizes. If half sizes are also available, you can rely on those to get the best possible fit.