Measurement & Dimensions





This article clarifies what measurement is, and what dimensions are. You'd be amazed at the number of inquiries we get from customers who are confused about measurements and dimensions. We hope this information is helpful.

What is measurement?
What is dimension?
What is a two dimensional object? 
What's a three dimensional object?

Before I answer these questions, do you know this joke? Anything that doesn't matter has no mass!


MEASUREMENT is a system, method or way to document the amount of something in relation to some other pre-established standard.

The idea of measurement is to choose a label for a characteristic of an object, a label such as a number or some other designator , and then to use that label to represent that characteristic when it is being compared to or with something else.

in other words, the label represents that characteristic when the characteristic is being compared to something else, for example,  in relation to a pre-established standard.

A statement about an object's size, weight, height, magnitude, loudness, etc. only has meaning when compared with or to something else.

Different characteristics are measured in different ways, using different systems, or standards.

There are a multitude of common and exotic ways to measure. This fact doesn't help the confusion! One of our favorite web sites documenting this is


DIMENSIONis a MEASUREMENT SYSTEM  that documents an object or event or location's characteristics of length, or width, or depth (or all three or more) as related to the space it is currently occupying in time so that you can find it. The 'object' doesn't have to be a solid object!  It can be anything you are trying to specify, in order for something or somebody to locate it.

To locate something in this way, you use the objects' spacial characteristics as its' dimensions, in other words,  its' characteristics become coordinates by which you designate its' location in space and time, and that's how you can locate that specific object or event or location or whatever in space and time, its' spacial characteristics are also called spacial DIMENSIONS and also referred to as spacial COORDINATES.

Dimension has no meaning if the object isn't being compared to or with the space the object is occupying at the moment. If the object isn't taking up any space, it won't have 'dimension(s)'. This in no way implies the object does not exist! In fact, it may have other characteristics, just not dimensional or spacial characteristics. 

Why do you need to specify so many characteristics? Because you're looking for a specific thingy in space and time, and you don't want to end up somewhere else, or finding anything other than the specify thingy or event for which you're searching. " If you don't know where you're going, you'll wind up somewhere else." -- Yogi Berra

For example:
you want to meet with me, 
at a specific time, 
at a specific place, 
on a specific day.
To do this you need four (4) coordinates, all coming together.
One coordinate to represent me, 
a second coordinate to represent the specific time, 
a third coordinate to represent the specific day, 
and a forth coordinate to represent the specific place. 

Miss even one of these, and you miss the whole kit and caboodle. Three out of four is no win either,  because if you only have three coordinates, me, time, and place, you don't have which day, so you lose.

Another example:
To specify me, uniquely,
you might state my sex, 
my height as measured from bottom to top, 
my weight, 
my age,
my genomes, 
my current latitude and longitude, 
full name, 
street address, 
city, state, zip code and country, 
and my family tree. 

When we refer to the 'dimension' of a space, we mean the number of coordinates needed to identify that specific point or location or thing or event or whatever in all of space. 

As in the above example, the more dimensions you can specify, the more specific the instructions, and you might say, the better the odds you'll find what you're looking for, when you're supposed to find it, in the location where where you're looking for it,  because you'll be in the right place to do all this precisely when you and it are supposed to be there.

Depending on your situation, however, this much detail may be overkill and fewer specifications may suffice. Or, you may only have a few specifications, or vague directions,  and have to 'take your chances', like finding a needle in a haystack. Thus, the number of characteristics, or dimensions, you need to specify,  depends on what it takes to make something unique enough that you can find it.

We may also refer to a three dimensional "plane", meaning we are using three coordinates to represent a specific 3-D "object" i.e. a cube rather than a flat square. 


Confusion abounds because different disciplines need to specify different things, and thus they all use 'dimensions' differently.   Art,  math, and science all use dimension differently, to specify different things.  Art,  math, and science all use the idea of specifying characteristics, but art, math and science differ in which characteristics they choose to specify and what they intend to find by doing so. Sigh.

For example, in mathematics and science, we use the word DIMENSION to describe the actual units by which we measure objects. It is these units of dimension that bring reality to a mathematical problem, distinguishing four miles from four feet. 

The origin of the word DIMENSIONis indicative of this measurement theme. The word DIMENSION is a weathered and worn version of the union of DIS ( meaning 'intense, strong' ) and METERI(meaning 'measure'), two parts whose combined meaning is "measure carefully".

However different the uses of dimensions are, this article deals with how Art uses dimension and you'll have to go elsewhere for more details on how math and science use this tool differently. 


"Two dimensional" in Art specifies or includes or uses only TWOcoordinates, such as just length and width (without height and weight), or just time and place without the day or with whom. In Art, "two-dimensional" generally refers specifically to only the length and width of a flat object such as a drawing, print, or painting and eschews mentioning anything about the artist, subject, time or place, or weight. 

In Art, "three-dimensional" refers to THREEcoordinates, such as the height, width, and depth of an object, and eschews mentioning anything about the artist, subject, time or place. Sometimes, sculpture is specified with four characteristics of height, width, depth, and weight.

In Art, the intent is to create a convention,  system, standard of designation, allowing us to sort a lot of things quickly. Anything described with three characteristics / dimensions / coordinates automatically gets assigned to the 3D category of things represented by three  dimensions, and anything we describe by only two characteristics / dimensions / coordinates, automatically gets assigned to the 2D category of things represented by two dimensions.

In Art, we have thus chosen to refer to sculpture primarily using THREE characteristics, or dimensions, (height, width and depth) and to create a comparison, we have chosen to refer to paintings and drawings using TWO characteristics, or dimensions (length and width).  

There are in fact more dimensions to paintings and drawings, such as the canvas or paper thickness, but they're extraneous because specifying more dimensions, even though they exist, does not improve this system. Our intent here is not to specify things precisely but rather to have a system that allows us to sort a lot of things quickly.


We hope this information is helpful to you. Thanks for reading. Merci de votre visite.


All Content is © Debra Spencer, Suit Yourself™ International. Technical Library FAQ Index ISSN 2474-820X. All Rights Reserved.
Please do not reproduce in part or in whole without express written consent. Thank you.


All Content is ©2020 Debra Spencer, Appanage™at Suit Yourself ™ International, 120 Pendleton Point, Islesboro Island, Maine, 04848, USA 44n31 68w91 Technical Library FAQ Index ISSN 2474-820X. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce in part or in whole without express written consent. Thank you.

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All Content is ©2020 Debra Spencer, Appanage™at Suit Yourself ™ International, 120 Pendleton Point, Islesboro Island, Maine, 04848, USA 44n31 68w91 Technical Library FAQ Index ISSN 2474-820X. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce in part or in whole without express written consent. Thank you.
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