By Christina Elias

Chapter 9: Directional Measurements

Directional measurements like time, rate and distance are important additions to any news article because they context for the events being reported on and the relationship between different places or people. It’s important to be able to do these simple calculations because many times, people will give reporters numbers that need to be fact-checked.

Formulas to know:
  • distance = rate x time
  • rate = distance ÷ time
  • time = distance ÷ rate
  • average speed = distance ÷ time
  • acceleration = (ending velocity – starting velocity) ÷ time
  • ending velocity = (acceleration x time) + starting velocity
  • ending speed = √[2(acceleration x distance)]
  • momentum = mass x velocity

Chapter 10: Area Measurements

When explaining to readers the size of an area, it can be expressed in two ways: analogy (it is the same size as something someone would be familiar with) and exact measurements. In the case of the latter, it’s vital to know how to compute and/or confirm those numbers yourself.

Formulas to know:
  • perimeter: (2 x length) + (2 x width)
  • area of a rectangle/square = length x width
  • area of a triangle = 0.5(base) x height
  • circumference of a circle = 2π x radius
    • the radius is half of the circumference
  • area of a circle = π x radius²

Chapter 11: Volume Measurements

Another way to give readers context is by providing the volume of things like the road salt needed for to cover a big thoroughfare

Formulas to know:
  • Volume = length x width x height
Common liquid conversions:
  • 2 tbsp = 1 fluid oz
  • 1/2 pint = 8 oz = 1 cup
  • 1 pint = 16 oz = 2 cups
  • 32 oz = 4 cups = 2 pints = 1 quart
  • 2 quarts = 1/2 gallon
  • 4 quarts = 1 gallon

Chapter 12: The Metric System

When the rest of the world uses the metric system, it’s extremely useful for journalists to have a basic understanding of it in the case of international news, events or context. The entire system is based on multiples of ten, so it’s much easier than it seems. Just in case, you can find a handy cheat sheet right below.

Prefixes and their numerical values:
  • micro (1 millionth) = 0.000001
  • milli (1 thousandth) = 0.0001
  • centi (1 hundredth) = o.01
  • deci (1 tenth) = 0.1
  • no prefix = 1
  • deka = 10
  • hecto = 100
  • kilo = 1,000
  • mega = 1,000,000
  • giga = 1,000,000,000
  • tera = 1,000,000,000,000
To convert American lengths to metric:
  • millimeters = inches x 25.4
  • centimeters
    • inches x 2.5
    • feet x 30
    • yards x 90
  • meters
    • feet x 0.3
    • yards x 0.9
  • kilometers = miles x 1.6
To convert metric lengths to American:
  • inches
    • millimeters x 0.04
    • centimeters x 0.4
    • meters x 39
  • feet
    • centimeters x 0.033
    • meters x 3.3
  • yards = meters x 1.1
  • miles = kilometers x 0.62
To convert American area measurements to metric:
  • sqaure centimeters = square inches x 6.5
  • square meters
    • square feet x 0.09
    • square yards x 0.8
  • kilometers = square miles x 2.6
  • hectares = acres x 0.4
To convert metric area measurements to American:
  • square inches = square centimeters x 0.16
  • square feet = square meters x 11
  • square yards = square meters x 1.2
  • acres = hextares x 2.5
  • square miles = square kilometers x 0.4
To convert American mass measurements to metric:
  • grams = ounces x 28
  • kilograms = pounds x 0.45
  • stones = pounds x 0.07
To convert metric mass measurement to American:
  • ounces
    • grams x 0.035
    • kilograms x 25
  • pounds
    • grams x 0.002
    • kilograms x 2.2
To convert American volume measurements:
  • milliliters
    • teaspoons x 5
    • tablespoons x 15
    • fluid ounces x 30
  • liters
    • cups x 0.24
    • pints x 0.47
    • quarts x 0.95
    • gallons x 3.8
  • cubic meters
    • cubic feet x 0.03
    • cubic yards x 0.76
To convert metric volumes to American:
  • fluid ounces = milliliters x 0.034
  • pints
    • milliliters x 0.002
    • liters x 2.1
  • quarts = liters x 1.06
  • gallons = liters x 0.26
  • cubic inches = cubic centimeters x 0.06
  • cubic feet = cubic meters x 35
  • cubic yards = cubic meters x 1.3
To convert temperatures:
  • Celsius = 0.56 x (Fahrenheit – 32)
  • Fahrenheit = (1.8 x Celsius) = 32

Give it a go with practice problems

  1. If Julia drives 300 miles to school and makes it there in 4 hours, how fast was she driving?
  2. A triangle’s base is 7 centimeters long. It has a height of 12 inches. What is the area of the triangle?
  3. Casey has to buy 4 gallons of ice cream for a big party. How many cups of ice cream will she have? How many ounces?
  4. How many inches are in a meter?
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