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Shoe Sizing Systems

Shoe Size Chart



Shoe Sizing Systems

The length of a foot is commonly defined as the distance between two parallel lines that are perpendicular to the foot and in contact with the most prominent toe and the most prominent part of the heel. Foot length is measured with the subject standing barefoot and the weight of the body equally distributed on both feet.

The size of the left and right foot is often slightly different - in this case both feet are measured and the shoe size based on the larger foot.

Each shoe is suitable for a small interval of foot lengths. The length of the inner cavity of a shoe must typically be 15–20 mm longer than the length of the foot, but this relation varies between different types of shoes.

There are three characteristic lengths that a shoe-size system can refer to:

  • The average length of foot for which a shoe is suitable. For customers, this measure has the advantage of being directly related to their feet. It applies equally to any type, form, or material of shoe. However, this measure is less popular with manufacturers, as it requires them to test carefully for each new shoe model, for which range of foot sizes it is recommendable. It puts on the manufacturer the burden of ensuring that the shoe will fit a foot of a given length.
  • The length of the inner cavity of the shoe. This measure has the advantage that it can be measured easily on the finished product. However, it will vary with manufacturing tolerances and provides the customer only very crude information about the range of foot sizes for which the shoe is suitable.
  • The length of the "last" , the foot-shaped template over which the shoe is manufactured. This measure is the easiest one for the manufacturer to use, as it identifies only the tool used to produce the shoe. It makes no promise about manufacturing tolerances or for what size of foot the shoe is actually suitable. It leaves all responsibility and risk of choosing the correct size with the customer.

All these measures differ substantially from each other for the same shoe.


The following length units are commonly used today to define shoe-size systems:

Customary Units

  • Barleycorn = 1/3 inch = 8.47 mm
  • Paris point = 2/3 cm = 6.67 mm = 0.26 inch

Metric Units

  • Millimetre (mm) = 0.039 inch
  • Centimetre (cm) = 10 mm = 0.39 inch

International standards

The International Standard is ISO 9407:1991, Shoe sizes — Mondopoint system of sizing and marking, that recommend a shoe-size system known as Mondopoint. It is based on the mean foot length for which the shoe is suitable, measured in millimetres. A Mondopoint shoe label can optionally also specify the width of the foot, again in millimetres.

European standard, used also for clothes, recommends instead that shoes should be labeled with the interval of foot lengths for which they are suitable, measured in centimetres.


N.B. Most of the shoe-size systems listed in this section are not formally standardized. The exact relationship between a labelled shoe size and the interval of foot lengths for which that shoe is suitable can vary substantially between different manufacturers. The following descriptions may only approximate the exact sizing systems used by individual manufacturers. One source of discrepancy occurs when a shoe manufactured according to one shoe-size system is labelled in another system.

English system/ Britain

Shoe size in Britain is based on the length of the last, measured in barleycorns(thirds of an inch) starting from the smallest practical size, which is size zero.

A child's size zero is equivalent to a hand (4″ = 12 barleycorns), and the sizes go up to size 13½ (8½″). Thus, the calculation for a child shoe size in the UK is:

child shoe size = 3 * last length in inches − 12

An adult size one is then the next size up (8⅔″) and each size up continues the progression in barleycorns. The calculation for an adult shoe size in the UK is thus:

adult shoe size = 3 * last length in inches − 25

United States and Canada

Shoe sizes in North America are similar to those in Britain but start counting at one rather than zero and so equivalent sizes are one greater. (This is similar to the way that floors in buildings are numbered from one rather from zero (ground) in these regions).

So, the calculation for a male shoe size in the USA or Canada is:

male shoe size = 3 * last length in inches − 24

Women's sizes are almost always determined with the "common" scale, in which women's sizes are equal to men's sizes plus 1.5 (for example, a men's 10.5 is a women's 12). In other words:

female shoe size (common) = 3 * last length in inches − 22.5

In the less popular scale, known as the "standard" or "FIA" (Footwear Industries of America) scale, women's sizes are men's sizes plus 1 (so a men's 10.5 is a women's 11.5).

female shoe size (FIA) = 3 * last length in inches − 23

Children's sizes are equal to men's sizes plus 12.33. Thus girls' and boys' sizes do not differ, even though men's and women's do.

child shoe size = 3 * last length in inches − 11.67

For the international market, ISO 9407 is used.


male shoe size = 3 * last length − 22.5cm

female shoe size (Australia/NZ) = 3 * last length − 20.5cm

French system

This system is the most common system worldwide, and the most used in number of people. It is standard in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and most other continental European countries, as well as China.

In this system, the shoe size is the length of the last, expressed in Paris points, for both genders and for adults and children alike. As a Paris point is 2/3 of a centimetre, the formula is as follows:


Shoe sizes in Japan are represented by the length of the shoe in centimetres. Size designations are independent of wearer's gender. However, for women sizes typically range from 23 cm to 25 cm (in increments of 0.5 cm); for men the sizes typically range from 24 cm to 28 cm (increments of 0.5 cm). Japanese feet (hence shoes) appear to be on average shorter and wider than those of American or Europeans. Children's shoes are also measured in centimetres.


Shoe sizes in Korea have no respect to gender, but simply correlate to the length of the foot in millimeters. Sizes are available in multiples of 5.


In Mexico, the shoe sizes are represented by the length of the shoe in centimetres (like in Japan). For women sizes typically range from 22 cm to 27 cm (in increments of 0.5 cm); for men the sizes typically range from 24 cm to 30 cm (increments of 0.5 cm).

Brazil and other Latin America

shoe size = length of foot (cm) / 0.65


Some manufacturers offer shoes of different width for the same foot length. Such shoes are then also labelled according to the width or girth of the widest part of the foot (typically measured directly behind the toes with the subject standing on both feet and wearing socks or hose).

In the Mondopoint system, the shoe size label can state in addition to the length also the width of the mean foot for which the shoe is suitable, both measured in millimetres.

A number of other ad-hoc notations for width or girth are also used. Examples include (each starting with the narrowest width):

  • 4A, 3A, 2A, A, B, C, D, E, 2E, 3E, 4E, 6E
  • N, R, W

Another example of a shoe company's widths is New Balance shoes' width system: 4A (extra narrow)2A (narrow), B (medium), D (wide), 2E (extra wide), 4E (extra, extra wide)for women. For men it is 2A (extra narrow), B (narrow), D (medium), 2E (wide), 4E (extra wide), and 6E (extra, extra wide)

None of these designations is formally standardized. The exact foot width for which these sizes are suitable can vary significantly between manufacturers. The A-E width indicators used by some US and UK shoe manufacturers are typically based on the width of the foot, and common step sizes are 1/4 inch (6 mm) or 3/16 inch (5 mm).


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