Once it happened to me that, being in a technical drawing class, I did not know how to use the scale 1:50, and I was unable to do my job properly; To prevent this from happening to you, here we are going to explain everything you need to know about the scale and its use.


How to use the scale?

Before explaining how to use the scale, we must know what this instrument is used on a regular basis by architects, drawing specialists, cartographers and many other professionals.

What is a scaler?

A scale is simply a ruler in the shape of a triangle or pyramid, since it has three different sides, with different scales; This tool is used to measure the scale in which an object, a shape or any element is represented in the real plane; in other words, it is used to measure its scale in reality. 

In this way, what we know as a staircase or architect's scale; it turns out to be just a special ruler with a prismatic shape, which gives the possibility of different scales being included in a single tool. Thanks to this, it is possible that architects, students and anyone who is dedicated to the arts, can make measurements more easily. 

This tool has the main purpose of facilitating the drawing of spaces, that if we see them in a real plane, it is impossible to capture them on a sheet of paper; It has three different scales, the natural scale (1: 1), the enlargement (x: 1), and the reduction scale (1: x).

And since we are talking about an instrument to measure; here we are going to leave you this wonderful article about units of measurement, we hope and it is of your interest.

Types of scale meters

We are already one step away from explaining how to use a scale, but first, we want to talk a little about the types that exist; If it is true, that in the previous explanation we said that this tool has a pyramid shape, since these are the most common; but, there are other presentations, let's see:

  • Planes: This tool is in the shape of an ordinary ruler, and can be found with two or four scales; that is, some only have one scale for each side and others, two scales for each face. 
  • Triangular or prismatic: as we already mentioned, these have the shape of a pyramid, and have two scales on each side; that is, they have 6 scales in total. In this type of scale, it is common for the scales to overlap; for example, the 1:20 scale matches the 1: 200. 
  • Square section: as the name implies, these are square and have up to 8 different scales. 


  • Fan: these steps are the most used by architects; since thanks to the fact that they have a variety of rules with different scales, they turn out to be the most complete. 

How is the scale meter used?

Now yes, the time has come to explain how to use the scale 1:20 and the rest of the scales. Actually, a scale is very easy to use; The first thing we must do is measure the dimensions of the object that interests us, using a ruler; We will take the measurements of the base, the sides and the rest of the parts that are necessary, depending on the object. 

This step will help us to know what the contour of an object is in its natural scale, keeping the real proportions and dimensions. So, if what we want is to use a magnification scale, we are going to substitute the “x” in the formula “x: 1”; in this way, if we expand it to double, the formula would be “2: 1”; We will do this depending on how much we want to expand. 

On the other hand, if what you are looking for is to carry out a reduction scale, a substitution would be made again in the formula, only this would be “1: x”; then, if we continue with the example given above, the substitution would be “1: 2”, and the drawing would be two times smaller than the original. 

It is here where the true results of using a scale can be seen, depending on the scale we need; In this sense, it is possible to carry out a measurement of our drawing and project it in a great variety of scales; which are in our tools. Finding the correct scale is as easy as turning the scale about its own longitudinal axis.

As we can see, the purpose of a scale turns out to be: to serve as a tool for those people who need to make measurements of drawings with different scales; as described above. The most common is that it is used in the school environment; but the reality is that the scale is a fundamental tool both for students and for those who practice architecture or design.

Scales of the scale

When the explanation of what a scale is given, the three existing scales were briefly mentioned; let's take a closer look at them: 


  • Real scale: as we already mentioned, this is represented with the symbol "1: 1"; in this case, the drawings are rendered with the true scale of the object.
  • Reduction scale: here, the drawing will be "x" amount of times smaller than what the object is in reality; because of this, the symbol is "1: x", since "x" is the number of times the object was shrunk. 
  • Magnification scale: this is the opposite case, since the drawings will become larger than the objects actually are; therefore, in the symbol "x: 1", the "x" refers to the number of times the object is magnified.

An example:

  • On the scale 1: 100, one centimeter in the drawing will be equivalent to one meter in reality; This scale is used mostly when making architectural plans. 
  • As for the 1:50 and 1:75 scales, one centimeter is equal to 0.5 or 0.75 meters of reality, as the case may be. 
  • The 1:20 reduction scale is equal to one centimeter in the plane, and 20 cm in reality; this is used mainly when it comes to capturing details. 

We hope that you are now able to use the scale the right way; But, if any point has not been clear to you and you require a visual example, here we are going to leave you a video where it is explained how to use a scale.