The Characteristics of Measuring Instruments

Measuring instruments play a crucial role in determining the accurate value of a quantity. These tools are designed to help us measure various properties like length, weight, temperature, and time with precision. In this article, we will discuss the various characteristics of measuring instruments.

Sensitivity: The Key Characteristics of Measuring Instruments

Sensitivity refers to the smallest measurement that we can make with a measuring instrument. For example, a ruler with a sensitivity of 1 in 1 mm means that one notch is equal to 1 mm. Similarly, a scale with a sensitivity of 1 in 20 g means that one notch is equal to 20 g.

Flow Rate: The Measurement Range

The flow rate of a measuring instrument refers to the range of measurements that it can make. For instance, a ruler can measure lengths from 0 to 30 cm, while a scale can measure weights between 0 and 3 kg.

Readiness: How Quickly the Instrument Takes the Measurement

Readiness refers to the speed at which a measuring instrument takes a measurement. Some instruments like thermometers and digital scales take readings almost instantly, while others like analog scales may take a few seconds to give accurate readings.

Analog vs Digital Measuring Instruments

Measuring instruments can be broadly classified into two types: analog and digital. Analog instruments have a moving pointer, such as a needle, that moves continuously on a scale marked by notches and numbers. Examples of analog instruments include rulers, balances, and thermometers.

On the other hand, digital instruments are devices in which the measured value is displayed directly on an electronic display. These instruments are equipped with sensors and microprocessors that quickly determine the value of a quantity and display it on the screen. Digital scales, digital thermometers, and electronic timers are examples of digital instruments.

Measurement Errors: Types and Causes

Measurements, no matter how precise the measuring instrument is, may contain errors. There are two types of errors: random errors and systematic errors.

Unpredictable factors or human imprecision cause random errors in measurements. Defects in the measuring instrument’s construction or usage result in systematic errors.


Measuring instruments are essential tools for determining the accurate value of a quantity. Understanding the sensitivity, flow rate, readiness, and type of measuring instruments can help us make better, more precise measurements. Additionally, being aware of the possible sources of measurement errors can help us avoid them and ensure the accuracy of our measurements.


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