Shoe Size Conversion Explained

To find the perfect shoes for your feet, it's always best to try on your footwear. However, you may not always have this option, so we've created a comprehensive guide to help you buy shoes that fit when you decide to buy them from distant sources. will help you navigate the world's various shoe size metrics for men, women, children and infants. For more assistance, use our online conversion calculator.

How the World Measures Shoe Size

The shoe size metrics chart will let you convert a basic foot measurement into your personal shoe size and width. Our system will also assist you if you need to determine your measurements for shoes from other parts of the world. The United States, Mexico, Australia and Japan as well as the United Kingdom and Korea measure shoe sizes differently.

Shoe size measuring systems differ in assessment type, unit of measurement and the placement of the zero in their sizing systems. Even when shoes made by different manufacturers have the same size listed, they may fit your feet differently due to diverse development techniques. Also, many shoe manufacturers just display the length on their footwear because a number of developers use a standard measurement for the width as it is more cost effective. A few places use different sizing systems for men's, women's and children's shoes. Safety and athletic footwear may also feature different sizing systems.

Shoe Length Overview

Footwear manufacturers use several types of length units to classify shoe-sizing systems. The most common sizing systems are Paris point, barleycorn and standard metric measurements. Shoe manufacturing companies frequently use Paris point for the length unit measurement. It equals 2/3 centimeters, which measures 1/4 of an inch. Barleycorn is 1/3 inch long, and it is an old English measurement. This unit of measure is the basis of modern day US and UK shoe sizes. When shoemakers select the metric measurement system, they'll use millimeters and centimeters to label their footwear sizes.

Length Specifics

You will most likely come across three basic methods that shoemakers use to form the length in today's shoes. They include the median length of feet, inner cavity shoe length and the length of the last. The median length of feet relates directly to a person's body measurements. The form of measurement pertains to all shoe shapes and materials. When shoemakers use this type of measurement, it requires extensive testing to manufacture new shoe models.

The inner cavity shoe length is beneficial for the manufacturer because it is easy to use on a completed design. This measuring method varies according to a company's production ease. Keep in mind that the length option only provides basic information regarding the shoe size.

Many shoe manufacturers use the length of the last to create the size of their footwear. The last refers to a template that is formed like a foot. It is the easiest development method for manufacturers since it indicates the tool a company uses to make its shoes instead of guaranteeing production tolerances or promising that a foot with specific measurements will fit into a particular shoe size. When a shoe company manufactures its shoes based on the last, it is up to you to obtain accurately sized shoes. Take into account that each length measuring method can vary considerably on the same type of footwear item.

The Mondopoint Measuring System

The Mondopoint measuring system is a more accurate sizing technique. When shoe companies use Mondopoint, they are including width. Due to the accuracy of Mondopoint, military organizations use it as do ski boot producers.

Width Specifics

A number of shoe size measuring systems feature foot width, but shoe manufacturers use various techniques to list it. If you purchase shoes that are measured in the Mondopoint system, then the developer will calculate the width in millimeters. In addition, the width measurement will be labeled by one or more letters with the narrowest width listed first. For instance, when a North American system includes width, it will be listed as A, B, C, D, E, EE, EEE, EEEE, F and G. A medium width in this system would be D. Width can also be recorded as 4A, 3A, 2A, A, B, C, D, E, 2E, 3E, 4E, 5E and 6E. UK width sizes are usually listed as C, D, E, F, G and H with F as the medium width in the measuring system. N, M, R and W are also used. N stands for narrow and M means medium width. R refers to regular width and W represents wide. Keep in mind that width sizing may vary according to the manufacturer. Width sizing also differs for men and women, so consider researching a shoemaker's sizing methods before buying a pair of shoes. If you don't see a width-sizing indicator, the shoe features a normal or regular width.

Sizing Overview for North America

In the United States and Canada, shoe sizing is similar, but you will likely come across variations in sports shoes and large size footwear. The measuring system uses inches to determine shoe size. Traditionally, the North American system begins at 1 as opposed to the English system, which starts at 0. As a result, American sizes will wind up being one size larger than English shoes.

Women's Sizing

Most companies size women's shoes based on the common scale. This sizing system is 1 1/2 inches larger than the shoe measurement for men's footwear. Therefore, a men's 8 1/2 shoe will be a women's size 10. If a shoemaker uses standard scale sizing, which is also known as the Footwear Industries of America scale, then the sizing indicators for women's shoes are one size higher than they are for men's, but they will equal the same dimensions. For instance, a men's 9 1/2-size shoe would be 10 1/2 in a women's shoe. However, the actual measurement for both shoes would be 10 1/2 inches long.

Children's Sizes

Children's sizes are the same for boys and girls. Shoe companies that manufacture footwear for American and Canadian consumers use a sizing system for kid's shoes that ends at 13. Larger children's shoes begin at size 1 in adult sizes.

Sizing Overview for Central Europe

In France, Italy, Spain and Germany, shoe manufacturers typically use the continental European sizing system. With this system, shoemakers determine shoe size according to the length of the last and Paris point. To calculate the dimensions of a shoe featuring the continental European system, you must add approximately 1 1/2 to 2 centimeters to the size posted.

Sizing Overview for the United Kingdom and Ireland

The sizing system most frequently used by shoemakers in the United Kingdom and Ireland is barleycorn. The measuring method is formed on the length of the last, and the smallest size it uses is 0. In barleycorn measurements, the largest size for children's shoes is 13 1/2.

Sizing Overview for Asia

In Asia, the sizing system is metric based. The method uses length and width to determine shoe sizes. When a shoemaker lists a size, it will be presented in centimeters. The length measurement will be the first sizing number listed. The second set of sizing indicators are the width. Variations occur in different countries. For instance, in China, the biggest width size used is EEEE. Japan's largest size is F. The measuring system has different shoe charts for men, women and children.

Shoe Measuring Process

To buy the right shoe size, you need to measure your feet properly. Fortunately, you can complete this step at home with a few basic household items. Gather two pieces of paper that are wider and longer than your feet. You'll also need a pencil, ruler and adhesive tape. Attach the two pieces of paper to a hard surface floor with your tape. Sit down and place one sock covered foot securely on one piece of attached paper. Bend your leg forward slightly to shift your shin in front of your ankle. Use the pencil to trace an outline of your foot. Make sure that your writing device is in the upright position and perpendicular to the page while you are creating the outline of your foot. If you make the trace with the pencil held at an angle, then you may not receive an accurate measurement. Also, let the pencil lean firmly against the side of your foot during the measuring process. Another person can trace your foot for you, but you can complete the measurement alone.

Be sure to trace both feet because people have variations between their left and right foot. In fact, the sizing difference can measure more than a full shoe size. After the outline is complete, use your pencil to draw separate straight lines across the bottom, top and sides of your outline.

Next, take your ruler and measure the space from the bottom line to the top mark of your outline. For an accurate measurement, hold the ruler straight and steady. Then, mark the closest spot on the measuring device. Make a note of the number, and use the same measuring process with the other outline. Be sure to measure the length and width of both outlines.

Using the Foot Measurements

Once you've determined the size of both feet, use the larger length and width measurement to establish your true shoe size. For instance, if your right foot is 1/2 of an inch longer than your left foot, use the right foot size. Use the same process for width. After you've calculated your length and width measurements, deduct 3/16 of an inch from each size to include the small section from your foot to the pencil line. Use our measuring charts to convert the length and width measurements to the proper shoe sizes.

Measuring Devices

Several measuring devices are available if you prefer a mechanized way to complete a size assessment of your feet. The large metal measuring tool that you see in many shoe stores is called the Brannock Device, and with it, you can obtain a proper measurement of your shoe size. The tool measures overall length, arch length and width. It allows you to buy shoes that provide the proper arch support. Properly fitted shoes are more comfortable to wear. They also last longer. Foot scanners are another measuring option. The device uses optical technology to determine your shoe size.

Shoe Buying Tips

If you're buying shoes for your child, take into account that footwear for children usually lasts for about four to five months. Therefore, create a household budget that includes enough funds to pay for several pairs of shoes. If you're buying shoes for a first time walker, then be sure to purchase a pair with extremely flexible soles and a small amount of extra growing space. When shoes are too big, blisters are likely to form while a tight fitting shoe will chafe your little one's feet and cause redness. Measure your child's feet in the evening hours because feet expand throughout the day.

To find the most comfortable footwear for you, consider buying shoes for the width and length of your feet. Most people need to purchase shoes that are narrow or wide. You may even need to buy shoes that are especially slim or extra wide.

When buying footwear online, take into consideration the type of activities you'll be performing in the shoes. Hiking shoes should be durable and waterproof. They should also cover your ankles to provide protection from snake and bug bites as well as rocks and plants. If you are buying regular workout shoes, then make sure that they come with a cushioning insert to protect your feet and legs from the activity. Dress shoes should feature a thick sole and quality construction.

Final Thoughts

We've created to help you buy shoes that fit your feet correctly. With proper measuring and comprehensive searching, you should be able to purchase shoes that fit comfortably and securely while displaying a stylish appearance that you'll be proud to have on your feet.

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