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Converting 10 mm to cm: How-to & Steps

Instructor: Julie Zundel

Julie has taught high school Zoology, Biology, Physical Science and Chem Tech. She has a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Master of Education.

What if you needed to know how many centimeters were in one millimeter, or vice versa? The metric system may seem mysterious, but don't worry. This lesson will provide the steps required to convert between two metric units of length: the millimeter and the centimeter. It will also offer an alternative method for converting between these units.

Steps to Solving the Problem

Maybe you aren't familiar with the metric system, a measurement system that is utilized by most of the world, but (believe it or not) it is actually an easy system to use, and converting between units is fairly simple! Even though we don't typically use the metric system in the United States, you are probably familiar with some units. For example, you've probably heard of the metric units millimeters, centimeters, meters and kilometers.

Okay, back to converting between units. Let's convert 10 millimeters, a metric unit of length represented by the symbol mm, to centimeters, another metric unit of length represented by the symbol cm. In other words, let's find out how many centimeters are in 10 millimeters. So grab some paper and a pencil.

Start by drawing a set of boxes that looks like the image below.

Step 1: Draw boxes
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Next, put your starting number (the number from which you want to convert), in the upper left hand box. In this example, the starting number is 10 mm.

Step 2: Place the starting number in the upper left square
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Now, match the units so you can cancel them out. To do this, you need to put millimeters (mm) in the box diagonal from 10 mm.

Step 3: Place the matching units in the diagonal box
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For the next step, you need to know the relationship between millimeters and centimeters. The metric system is a ten-based system, which means that you can multiply or divide by 10, 100, 1000, etc. to covert between units. Our focus here is converting between mm and cm, so for this lesson, you need to know that there are 10 mm in 1 cm. Now that you know this, you can finish filling out the boxes (check out the image below to see how!).

Step 4: Place the numbers in the boxes
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Remember, you already knew where to put the cm and mm because you had the units already in place. You also know that in every centimeter, there are 10 millimeters.

Now you need to cross out the units that are the same and diagonal from one another. Take a look at the image below to see how this is done. You can see you are left with cm - this is exactly what you want, since you are converting to cm.

Step 5: Cancel out units
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