How To Measure Shoe Size

Fit governs function.” Without the right sizing, a shoe cannot serve its main purpose. Thankfully, it does not take a professional to determine your correct size. Here are some simple steps on how to measure your shoe size that will ensure that any footwear fits perfectly!

How To Measure Your Shoe Size In Four Simple Steps

Knowing three numbers is essential in ordering the correct size of shoe and guaranteeing that the fit is not too small or too big. Here is a quick and easy guide for determining these figures. 

Step 1: Outline Your Foot

Outline Foot To Determine Length, How To Measure Shoe Size

First, place a piece of printer paper on the ground and center your foot on the page. Next, using a pen, carefully trace around the perimeter of your foot. In order to gain a precise measurement, conduct this step while standing upright so that your weight is evenly distributed. 

Additionally, make sure to press the pen or pencil against the foot, but do not angle it inward. This will give you an imprecise measurement. Moreover, make sure to wear socks during this exercise if you intend to wear them with the shoes. 

It is also important that you take your measurements at the end of the day. As you walk, run, and stand throughout the morning and afternoon, your feet will swell. Thus, your feet are the biggest at night. Obviously you want your shoes to fit during all parts of the day so this step is imperative! 

Finally, trace the alternate foot so that you have measurements for both. Why does this matter? The majority of people have one foot that is just slightly larger than the other. When selecting a shoe, always go with the larger length. 

PRO TIP: For those without a steady hand or who have difficulty balancing, consider having another person trace your feet for you. 

Step 2: Determine The Length

Measure Your Foot Length, How To Measure Shoe Size

Second, align your ruler at the center edge of the heel and position it across the lengthwise portion of the outline of your foot. The intent is to determine the longest measurement so place the alternate side of the ruler where the end of your first or second toe would sit (whichever is longer). This is your length. Additionally, make a point to get this number in both inches and centimeters. Depending on the brand and country that the shoes are manufactured, you will need one of these two measurements. 

Step 3: Determine The Width

Measure The Widest Part Of Your Foot, How To Measure Shoe Size

To determine your width, take a soft tape measure and wrap it around where your phalanges meet your metatarsals. In layman’s terms, this is where the front pads of your feet are located. The intent is to determine the diameter of your foot at the widest point. You can also measure this using your outlines.

This measurement will dictate whether you need to purchase narrow, normal, or wide shoe variations. Always use the largest measurement.

Step 4: Determine The Depth

Measure The Depth Of Your Foot, How To Measure Shoe Size

Finally, your shoe depth, otherwise known as your arch height, is the diameter of the center of your foot where the sole is at its greatest arch. This can also be measured with a soft measuring tape. 

This number is important for those who need a little added space in their shoes to accommodate a brace or orthopedic supports. This type of footwear is referred to as a double depth or extra depth shoe. Folks who have issues with swelling or other foot related health conditions can benefit from this type of accessory. Moreover, if high arches are an issue, consider investing in shoe inserts for your regular footwear as well. Then, make sure to bring them with you when trying on shoes as they will likely cause you shoe size to alter slightly. 

Arch Depth Matters For Boot Sizing

While not all shoe brands make special accommodations for the anatomy of your arch, knowing this information can better assist you in finding the optimal fit in boots. Most manufacturers of this type of shoe offer high arch, moderate arch, and low arch options to guarantee that you get a custom fit.

A quick way to get a general idea of where you stand in this category is to look at the shape of your outline. Those with more curvature in the center of their foot will have a higher arch. In contrast, if you have virtually no contouring, you have a low arch. Why is this so important?

In case you didn’t know, when you are active, the center of your foot is supposed to absorb shock. Unfortunately, for those with high arches and shoes that do not provide proper support in this area, this can put stress on the balls and heels of their feet. Thus, for those individuals looking to purchase boots, this measurement is key in preventing pain and injury. When trying on any type of shoe, your goal should be for the sole of the shoe to hug the curves of your feet. This will give you ample structure in your shoe. 

Shoe Size Charts – What You Need To Know

Once you have measured your feet, it is important to reference the size guide specific to the brand that you are looking at purchasing. Some brands will only offer footwear with differing lengths whereas others will also come with both length and width options. These measurements will correspond with a number and a letter.

The number represents the length of your foot and the various letters will determine your width. These letters range from A to E and there can be up to four letters. Hence, those with narrow feet may be an A or an AAA. The more letters, the more narrow the shoe will become. 

Furthermore, these combinations will vary between men’s versus women’s shoes. For reference, D is the average width for men and B is average for women. Just like with stereotypical shoe sizes, the letter or letters correspond with a specific measurement that is dictated by the company. 

How To Measure Your Kid’s Shoe Size

First and foremost, never assume that you know your child’s shoe size. Always measure their shoe size prior to purchase. Why? Unlike adults, kid’s feet change much more rapidly over time. Parents should expect their children’s feet to go up half a size every few months. 

This is why footwear experts recommend taking measurements in two month intervals. Just like an adult’s foot, you can also measure your kid’s feet using the same tracing method directed above. However, squirmy and impatient little ones can make this simple act quite stressful. This is why it can sometimes be better to take your kids to the shoe store to measure their shoe size using a Brannock Device

Brannock Device

This metal tool is a staple in the footwear industry and it takes mere seconds to use. Best of all, they are in virtually any store that sells these necessary accessories. If you need assistance, you can always speak to an employee.

Tips For Keeping Up With Your Kid’s Shoe Size

Unfortunately, most children will not articulate to you that they need a larger size. This means always keeping an eye out for signs that they need an upgrade. These can include general fussiness when in footwear, taking them off after minimal activity, and not engaging in their usual lively pursuits. Additionally, if you are struggling to put their shoes on, it is time to go shopping. 

Most children’s footwear does not come in half sizes so when selecting a length, always choose the bigger option. Lastly, while it is easy to fall prey to purchasing the adorable, and expensive, baby shoes, there is no need to buy this accessory until your little one becomes mobile. Babies will normally fall in between sizes 0 and 4 and toddlers will span anywhere between sizes 2 and 10. However, there are always exceptions to the rule. 

How To Pick Out The Best Shoe For You

When you measure your shoe size, you are determining the average length and width to accommodate a standard shoe. These figures will give you a general idea of what size to try on and what style of footwear is best suited for your feet. However, it is extremely important to consider the function of the shoe in order to find the perfect fit.

Determine The Intent Of Use

Walking Shoe 

Basic walking shoes and dress shoes should have approximately an eighth of an inch of space between the heel and the back of the shoe and half an inch in the toe box. This ensures comfort and ease of use. Most people can measure their feet and stick with these primary figures for their footwear purchases.

In contrast, hiking boots and work boots need to have a more snug fit. Why? Too much movement will diminish the wearer’s stability and can lead to unwanted blisters and calluses. When trying this type of footwear on, it is imperative that you always bring the socks that you intend to wear with the boots. Usually, they will be much thicker than a regular sock so they will take up more space.

Athletic Shoes – Always Talk To An Expert 

Moreover, athletic footwear also needs to be tighter than a regular shoe because a more custom fit provides support and improves balance, which ensures that injuries don’t occur. Additionally, it will enhance performance and momentum and give the player the power to make adjustments in direction with ease. 

As a matter of fact, for those athletes playing in more unstable environments, such as on a hockey rink, the recommended shoe size will decrease up to 1.5 sizes from their regular measurements. Basketball sneakers, soccer cleats, and cross country trainers may also run a bit smaller, but football cleats and hunting boots will likely run larger. 

Thus, talk to your coach about their recommendations and reach out to the experts who make these types of footwear. They can best advise you on the proper fit to look for to get the most out of this sporting equipment. 

Confirm Fit And Function — Kids And Adults

Once you feel as if you have found a shoe that provides ample support and the proper amount of space for your daily activities, take the time to test them out! For this to be successful, you must continue to keep the intent of use in mind. Walk in dress shoes, but run in cross country trainers. Mimic the movements that you will engage in when wearing this footwear! This can help you determine if there are any areas that are too tight or if there is any slipping occurring in the heel or peripheral sides of the shoe.

Baby Shoes With Velcro Strap

Unfortunately, gauging fit in children’s shoes can be a bit harder. This is why looking for adjustable shoes is so important! Velcro as well as hook and loop options are best.

Sizing Baby Shoes

Then, if your child is of walking age, let them get the lay of the land. Is there a change in their regular gait? Are they tripping and falling? Are they stopping to tug at the shoes? If there are no glaring changes, then push on the peripheral sides of the shoe to ensure that there is a small amount of wiggle room.

Final Thoughts

Your feet are your foundation. They ensure balance, stability, posture, and mobility. However, without the right tools, those tootsies will degrade over time, bringing a slew of foot ailments. This is why it is so imperative that adults measure their shoe size every few years. However, changes in health can bring alterations sooner. This can include general foot pain, pregnancy, a diabetes diagnosis, arthritis, or both weight gain and weight loss. Therefore, if you experience these shifts in your physical wellness, it is important to measure your feet sooner. 

Finally, measurements are not everything. While you may have a perfectly fitted shoe, if you allow it to wear down too much, it will not properly support you. Thus, always replace your shoes every year. This time frame should be shortened if you begin experiencing pain, if the treads on your shoes are worn, or if blisters begin to form. Shoes are an investment in your overall ability to operate throughout day-to-day activities. Keep your body and soul happy by prioritizing your soles!


  1. Incorrectly fitted footwear, foot pain and foot disorders: a systematic search and narrative review of the literature,
  2. How To Know If Shoe Fits: Is It Too Big or Too Small?,