1. dave
    March 29, 2010 @ 4:46 pm

    I don’t care what the real answer USED to be…
    now that I read this on the i-n-t-e-r-n-e-t, it just HAS to be true.

    From now on, it is WIDTH x HEIGHT for me…
    until I read on Snopes.com that this was just plain malarkey!


  2. that guy
    April 2, 2010 @ 11:21 am

    I have always found it helpful to just say what I mean and mean what I say. If I want an 8 foot wide banner; “8 foot wide x 4 foot tall” is hard to miss. Then there is always the benefit of a good crude illustration; you know what they say about a picture being worth a thousand…


  3. Robert
    May 31, 2011 @ 7:32 pm

    Most of the sign companies I deal with always measure in “height x width” I don’t understand the logic but it almost seams like it is an industry standard thats only practiced in the sign manufacturing industry. It drives me crazy and gets really confusing.


  4. Kris Hunt
    July 11, 2011 @ 4:48 pm

    We refer to a vertically oriented letter-size page as an “eight-and-a-half by eleven page”, so there’s further proof.

    In my experience, anyone who refers to height first only does so because the height happens to be the longest measurement for that particular instance. Their standard is “say the longest side first”, which is, of course, idiotic.


  5. Rushe
    July 11, 2011 @ 5:55 pm

    One does not purchase a 10×8 photo frame, nor write on a 14×11 legal pad, and yet, when it comes to art projects, I have to repeat WXH almost daily… frustrating!


  6. Spanky
    September 20, 2011 @ 3:42 pm

    Always WIDTH x HEIGHT

    What’s really frustrating, is that I end up beating my bosses and co-workers in the head because they all are too stupid to figure out this simple standard.

    Like Rushe stated above. I have always used eight and a half by eleven paper.
    I’ve never in my life used eleven by eight and a half paper.


  7. Ron
    November 18, 2011 @ 9:54 am

    I’m working with an Artist in making up a catalog, and I have learned that in the Book world, and Fine Art in particular, the dimensions are always listed as H x W.
    Reference the Chicago Style Manual.

    I know in the Graphics world we sometimes do not have the image to immediately see, yet we must allow the correct space in the Layout or Design – so that convention (W x H) is important.


  8. Jon
    November 28, 2011 @ 5:37 pm

    My first reaction was, like several above to point out 8 1/2 x 11 paper. Plus, as a designer, it’s a no-brainer to say that everything is WxH. So I started to write all of the examples I could down on a 3 x 5 card… Oh wait!!! Drat!

    I would also point out that TVs are 4×3 or 16×9 ratio, not 9×16.

    From now on, I’ll just design everything square, so I no longer have to worry about it.


  9. Sebastien
    February 15, 2012 @ 9:29 am

    It’s Simple ! Its all about X and Y !!!

    X comes before Y doesn’t it ?


  10. Sandy
    March 26, 2012 @ 2:13 pm

    I’m not in any profession or trade; what ever your “industry standard” is, apparently, isn’t standard! Please, just make the designations “h”, “w” and “d” universal!


  11. Brian Sommers
    July 14, 2012 @ 2:50 pm

    I’m an abstract artist and I give the dimensions relative to the orientation of the painting.

    which turns out to be width x height

    so a 72″x30″ painting would be a painting that is design to be in a horizontal format.. but that same size canvas if I would have painted something that should be vertical, I would list it as 30″x72″

    actually if you really want to clear things up.. just put the letter besides it 36″w x 72″H or whatever.. bottom line it does not matter as long as you are EFFECTIVELY COMMUNICATING WITH YOUR AUDIENCE!


  12. Art
    September 19, 2012 @ 10:28 am

    These comments are all fun and I’m surprised no printer has weighed in. Paper sizes are referenced by grain not by dimension. 8½ x 11 is totally different than 11 x 8½. The grain is the second dimension. Learn more at: http://printwiki.org/Grain


  13. Luke
    October 29, 2012 @ 8:50 am

    I was always led to believe the width x height thing originates from newspaper printing (or rather typesetting). Columns x height.


  14. ready123go
    October 29, 2012 @ 6:00 pm

    in math, the “universal language” where there’s not much room for interpretations, if I remember correctly…

    – all points are (x,y)
    – all grid axis are (x,y)
    – all dimensions are (w,h), corresponding to the axis they’re measured on (x,y)
    – all rectangles dimensions are (w,h)
    – with all points in 3d space, you add z but still x and y come first in that order, as (x,y,z)
    – 3d cubes are LxWxH, where the front facing rectangles dimensions are the L and H

    programming languages follow the same order.

    seems in math, and programming, it will always be Width x Height.

    Where do people have it backwards? Art. Why? “Why ask why.” But, if I had to guess i’d think maybe in the time that fine art became a commodity and the nomenclature became established, maybe portraits were just the most common, most popular, and always assumed the vertical orientation, and people just tended to use the longer dimension first? Who knows. It should be the other way. But, when someone says “print me an 8×10 picture”, they almost always mean a portrait.


  15. Rob
    January 26, 2013 @ 5:49 am

    Apple lists the specs for its iPhone screen resolutions as H x W. Rookies.


    • pauls
      March 1, 2013 @ 3:48 pm

      Rob, I guess that might depend on which way you hold the phone. In the case of a device like a phone, it can go either way. A print is generally going to be constrained to only one orientation.


  16. HonkyRock
    March 16, 2013 @ 12:18 pm

    Height is first.
    According to FACTS, the organization of Fine Art Care and Treatment Standards International Standards Guide for Taking, Recording, and Communicating Dimensions (of art) the vertical measurement (height) is recorded first, followed by the horizontal measurement (width), and in the case of three dimensional works, the depth measurement is recorded last.
    I work at a large commercial printers and we always put height first concerning printed matter. Width by height is reserved for other industries however.
    But remember the old saying, if your Aunt had b*llocks, she’s be your uncle.


    • Steve Vaught
      March 28, 2013 @ 9:54 am

      Just for the sake of argument…
      Tossing out any kind of guides, people can define anything anyway they like. Correct?
      Adobe, as well as others, has done just that, set a standard by which the vast majority of graphic professionals adhere to.
      I would be curious to know how the software programs any of you work with, display dimensions. WxH? HxW? XxY? YxX
      I relate everything to what is natural for me. Go back to the way we read: Across, then down. Width by height just seems natural.


  17. Pink Polar
    April 12, 2013 @ 1:58 pm

    I will refer to one of the only things I can remember from my Maths school days… “you have to go into the house (horizontal/w) before you can go up the stairs (vertical/h)”

    Makes sense to me!


  18. Worthit
    April 26, 2013 @ 12:11 pm

    Firstly I agree that dimensions of documents should be “Width x Height” – as per major graphics programs/applications.

    When I became a newspaper apprentice in 1970 in Western Australia all advertisments were sold and prepared as and they still are “Depth x Width” ie 10cm x 2 columns or 30cm x 40 columns (cm = centimetres = Metric system). So the newspaper system may have muddied the waters.

    Currently, at work (a private web press – not newspaper enterprise) we have a system where the office/booking enters the details of a job “Height x Width” – sometimes creating great confusion between the client and prepress with files being formatted landscape when we are expecting portrait files.

    I don’t think this is going to change any time soon.

    When giving or asking information I use the following format.
    275mm w x 289mm d

    Good luck to all from Worthit in faraway Oz.


  19. Jeff
    May 20, 2013 @ 5:43 pm

    I have been in the printing industry for over twenty years and I recently took it upon myself to educate the sales team on the correct way of creating a work order. Width always comes before height. I created a PDF with various samples of the orientation and naming conventions to help them. I also pointed out that if they hover their cursor in the bottom left hand area in a PDF the size appears correctly (width by height). In printing we use text as the determining factor in orientation. If you hold the sheet of paper as you would read it that is your width by height. Left to right (width) by top to bottom (height). Others before me (and still here) didn’t take the initiative to set things straight. Since I’ve been here our accuracy has greatly improved.


  20. Montague
    June 5, 2013 @ 7:21 pm

    The FINAL proof that YOU ARE RIGHT…. is that if you go outside and look at a landscape, your HORIZONTAL field of view (or the WIDTH) is 208 degrees (including peripheral vision), while the VERTICAL field of view (or the HEIGHT) is 120 degrees (including peripheral vision)… so we have evolved to SEE LANDSCAPE first rather than PORTRAIT…
    Another point to take into consideration… We only of know of ONE predator that we -as ancient human, would have to look out for in PORTRAIT mode… that is a FLYING pterodactyl… while the threats to our survival in LANDSCAPE mode were plenty to say the least.
    SO to confirm your argument… we write and refer to paper measurements by WIDTH first, THEN HEIGHT


  21. Grae
    July 8, 2013 @ 5:30 am

    Keep it personal.

    In all things we relate as a person to the reality we are in.

    I am 5′ 10″ tall; I never emphasize my width first. Who does?


  22. tyler
    August 9, 2013 @ 11:12 am

    The sign industry uses 2 versions of the measurement, but in my experience it is used only for products which have fluting or marking that run a particular length.

    For example for a product called Coroplast or Corex, it has fluting (channels like a cardboard box) so if you identify width x height you are asking for the fluting to run the width length, if you do height x width you are wanting the fluting to run on the height.

    Why is this important? If you are using an “H-stake” or similar frame it connects inside the fluting so you need the fluting on the height side (so height x width). The important part is identifying the measurement with name so 24″H x 18″W.


  23. Jim Dean
    August 19, 2013 @ 6:48 am

    I,ve worked in publishing, exhibition graphics, sign making and fine art – and it has always been width first and height second. ‘Along the corridor and up the stairs’.

    However it would make sense to specify which measurement is which with a W or H suffix and that’s normally what I do. I find myself having to ask customers, almost on a daily basis, “is it Landscape or Portrait?


  24. Loretta
    August 19, 2013 @ 4:26 pm

    The industry standard for ll industries should be squares. Squares everywheres.


    • Steve Vaught
      August 19, 2013 @ 4:31 pm

      That’s an award winning suggestion, Loretta! (Not sure what the award should be though.)


  25. John
    August 22, 2013 @ 7:13 am

    In the US I believe it’s WxH in the UK it’s HxW


  26. John
    April 9, 2014 @ 6:50 pm

    In labelli g rooms architecturally, is is horizontal dimension x vertical dimension.
    A room in a 20ft row house is 19′-2″ x 13′ deep


  27. SignGuy
    June 18, 2014 @ 3:37 pm

    I have worked in the sign world for a number of years with several different companies across the united states. Every company I have worked for including the largest sign company in the world, ALL use Height x Width. Friends in the print industry always use Width x Height. For some reason the sign business is just different. So a 4’x8′ banner would be 4′ High and 8′ wide.


  28. Jenny
    July 1, 2014 @ 8:56 am

    For me, I made the mistake of assuming height by width because of the reading left to right. I can understand the confusion, and I have seen it both ways. I also thought of a 3×5 index card. 3 being height, and 5 being width. I think if there weren’t so many different examples of each way, it would be less confusing for the lay person like me. 🙂 Patience from the experts, please. I’m that annoying person who always gets it wrong. And I’ve worked in the print industry (years ago) and have a graphic artist husband. You’d think I’d have it down by now. Maybe now that I’ve done a little research, I’ll remember.


  29. no
    July 31, 2014 @ 11:56 am

    think of it like a sheet of paper…We call it an 8.5″x11 (8.5 wide and 11 long)


  30. Ayfi Hessian
    August 3, 2014 @ 10:45 pm

    my view on this is this :p .. since i’m an artist myself.. it is the way our mind works.. for an artist it’s always height first.. because height is what makes the artwork stand.. we want it to stand out.. for consumers and other than artist it’s width first because they want it to fit.. just my point of view.. unfortunately all the software that were used to produce an artwork is programmed by non artistic by means a programmer.. so the preference goes to them not us..


  31. Ayfi Hessian
    August 3, 2014 @ 10:48 pm

    so please feel free to call us idiots.. we are all nothing but one.. :p


  32. Jonny S
    August 7, 2014 @ 7:08 pm

    Great argument… but the answer is clear. I have been a professional designer for 20 years, and all artwork request technical specification sheets from magazines, newspapers, flyers, posters even video work is Width x Height.

    A photo is 6×4, or 7×5. My TV is 16:9…. at least in the UK. However most tech sheets do usually dictate landscape or portrait to be on the safe side


  33. Jonny S
    August 7, 2014 @ 7:20 pm

    sorry forgot to add… ‘however’ a photo is 6×4, or 7×5 ‘but’ my TV is 16:9…. look – it’s late here in the UK and Sharknado is on in the background…


  34. Randy
    August 19, 2014 @ 3:15 pm

    It always has been width x height and always will be. Anyone that does it differently really has no clue what “standard” is. There’s a reason it’s a standard. If one chooses to do it differently it’s in theirs and everyone else’s best interest to identify the difference (10’H x 8’W).

    Inside the same argument, anyone that says they’ve never used 11×8.5 paper has never used a page landscape? 8.5×11 is portrait, 11×8.5 is landscape.


  35. johnny
    September 30, 2014 @ 9:12 am

    I’ve been in signage, printing, ad copy, ad design and fine art for over 30 years, and have even created many ad guides for magazines, newspapers, etc…. every single time I’ve had anything requested or given, it’s always, always, always:

    width x height.

    Every. Single. Time.


  36. Mitch Powell
    October 24, 2014 @ 2:20 am

    This has been extraordinarily confusing. Thank you all; especially those of you who threw the biggest wrenches into the works.

    So… I tend to agree with the majority here, that it should be width, then height. And to clarify, you verbalize “x wide by y high.”

    But here’s where I’m wanting to make absolutely sure I don’t confuse anyone when I set up an online store for selling reproductions (giclées) by the square inch – canvas is 30 cents, paper is 20 cents.

    The giclée can be specified by the buyer to be a specific width or a specific height. They need to understand that the aspect ratio determines the unnamed measurement, so that if they need a particularly skinny and tall giclée, they will need to choose whether it’s the width or the height they need to specify. If they have a wall where the work can only be 12 inches wide, then when they specify 12 for the width, the height will automatically adjust to its proper aspect ratio.

    But here’s the real rub: There’s this other word, “Length.”

    In 3D, most people realize there’s a width x a height x a length to arrive at the volume of a 3D object. But people loosely use the terminology: “how long is it?” “how wide is it?” how tall is it?”

    How do we all get on the same page when we want to be sure they know it’s an “over-the-sofa” or “thin and stretching all the way up to the rafters” sort of a purchase?


  37. (x, y)
    November 11, 2014 @ 12:45 pm

    Simplest reason:

    x by y is width by height. Mathematically and thus universally this is the standard.


  38. (x, y)
    November 11, 2014 @ 12:47 pm

    further complication is to be calculated as such:

    x, y
    x, y, z
    x1, y1, z1, x2, y2, z2


  39. Paul M
    January 8, 2015 @ 5:34 am

    It isn’t a case of what is right or wrong, it depends on an industries standard method. It’s the equivalent of saying a word has been made up… All words have been made up!

    The print industry has been around for a few centuries and has, up until computers taking over, been height x width. This comes from fine art standards which are even more centuries old, whereas mathematics is x (width) y (height) z (depth) hence the confusion, as an artist and mathematician it must’ve done Leonardo da Vinci’s head in!

    When computers first came into the print industry (they are set as a standard to w x h) it cost a lot of people a lot of money re-creating and re-printing materials because of the confusion. It’s all progress isn’t it? In my opinion the sooner print industry accepts defeat the better, it does my head in as a graphic designer. Anything we produce for the WWW is w x h easy, anything for print these days has to be queried as some printers have now switched to w x h and others stick with the industry standard h x w and we’re endlessly having to swap it in our heads and double checking everything.

    I hope this clears up any confusion when it comes to ordering print / signage, best thing is to always double check. 🙂


  40. Stevie
    February 20, 2015 @ 10:14 am

    Thing is my gripe is, why be lazy and leave out a simple H, W, or L, as the application dictates. In construction it’s not a big deal a 2×4 is easily transferable to either orientation. yeah it’s both. But when dealing with perspective orientated products of an one way only Jose perspective, yeah, it’s nice to know the orientation, and I don’t have to search the web for dimesioal standards. Even then, there is NO fraking correct answer, and one always risks a 90 degree miss-orientation, or something like that. Come On, SERIOUSLY!!!! How fraking hard is it to put an h, w, t, in the fraking description???? Really??? is it that fraking asking to much of someone???? really?? you got to be fraking kidding me. Very disappointed in everone who thinks that I should share all their orientation purrspective. Rant over. roflmfao, so …………….


  41. David
    March 17, 2015 @ 12:21 pm

    Graphics standards are width x height, fine art standards are height x width… see any fine art in a museum or fine art publication, always height x width… just about everything else is width x height


  42. Bogdan
    March 20, 2015 @ 5:24 pm

    It’s a logical thing. It has nothing with applications as reference. Application designers just followed simple rule.

    You read everything from left to right and top to bottom. Got it?
    So it’s WIDTH x HEIGHT. (left/top to right/bottom)


  43. David
    March 30, 2015 @ 10:31 am

    What is confusing is that digital image dimensions are expressed in the opposite order from flat art (paintings, etc.) dimensions which are always expressed as “height by width”. So “orientation” is also a subjective word when trying to get someone to see the logic (not there) when speaking of dimensions. Much print media is expressed in either order — 8×10 photo (wxh) or 4×6 photo (hxw) — that it does become more practical to state dimensions along with the direction 8wx10h or 4hx6w.


  44. Orin
    July 17, 2015 @ 1:11 pm

    “You read everything from left to right and top to bottom. Got it?” So does that mean Hebrew speakers measure right to left and Chinese top to bottom? Reading has nothing to do with a standard like this, it comes from geometry as translated to computer programs, which are based on x (w) and y (h). I was confused because I’m in both fine art and print, so this helped me find that yes, fine art such as metmuseum.org does h x w x d, while the rest of the world follows geometry.


  45. JJ
    July 22, 2015 @ 10:17 pm

    Funny… I came here to prove someone wrong. A lot of people think the smaller number should always be listed first. It makes no logical sense and drives me mad. Using the words “tall” or “long” also cause problems. I’ve had a number of people even change the format in the SAME sentence. “…The banner should be 3’x6′ but the directional signs are 24″x36″…”. How many of you can recall the last time someone correctly identified a 6’x3′ landscape banner? 99.9% of the time it’s just a 3×6.

    The graphics standard is width x height, this shouldn’t need to be a question. However since there’s so many amateurs today who think they are “Graphic Designers” because they’ve mastered tweaking selfies in Photoshop, the “standard” has been watered down to nothing.

    It’s very simple. W = Width and H = Height. So a 6’x3′ banner is 6’W x 3’H. Though since people often mistake “width” for a vertical measurement, it’s still a good idea to say Portrait or Landscape.

    Personally I think a new standard of “L x P” should be adapted to really screw with people. A 6’x3′ banner would be 6′ Portrait x 3′ Landscape (6’P x 3’L). At least you can’t confuse it with anything else.


  46. wilie
    August 4, 2015 @ 5:01 am



  47. Dereklotek
    August 11, 2015 @ 12:22 pm

    When we get portrait pictures printed they are 8×10, American paper standard is 8 1/2 x 11, my PC monitor is 1360×768. All seem to be width x height. So I am going with that.


  48. Gretchen
    August 19, 2015 @ 5:58 pm

    I think the reasoning is simple and anatomical: our eyes are oriented horizontally on our faces. So I think we are more quickly and likely to think in terms of a more horizontal world around us as the priority.


  49. Rust
    August 26, 2015 @ 2:20 pm

    Layout orientation-wise using a letter-sized paper,
    8.5×11 = portrait
    11×8.5 = landscape

    Width x Height
    Width = top margin
    Height = left margin


  50. Crystal
    September 5, 2015 @ 2:07 pm

    It’s not idiotic to ask a question. I could say that it’s idiotic to think only of paper as only being 8 1/2″ x 11″ because actually it could be either way…..if I wanted a landscape type. Duh!


  51. Miguel
    September 8, 2015 @ 11:58 am

    a 4×8 sheet of drywall is actually 4 high x 8 wide. Since drywall is installed running wider rather than taller…… HxW makes more sense, no ?


  52. Jay Tucker
    September 18, 2015 @ 9:10 am

    I always list my measurements as like this: 10 1/4″W x 13″H and so on.


  53. tinashe
    November 5, 2015 @ 12:04 am

    In normal practice, the smaller value is assumed to be the width and the bigger value as the height or length. So 8 X 3 would be H X W and 3 X 8 would be W X H.


  54. Mike O'Leary
    January 19, 2016 @ 10:45 pm

    Don’t ever assume The smaller number is the width that’s ignorant and it will bite you in the butt. The first number has always been the width, Doors, windows. Height is another story. The portrait however seems to change the dynamics , HxW . The door industry also confuses this issue when you call a door a right hand swing or left hand swing. Commercial door ordering is opposite of residential door orders. The lesson here is to ask what all the values are when ordering. This info. was learned the hard way. Don’t be afraid to ask, it will save you money.


  55. Albert Anthony
    February 14, 2016 @ 3:00 pm

    Tinashe, so in your world everything is taller than wider??? that doesn’t make sense – see the point.


  56. Sean
    February 25, 2016 @ 5:36 pm

    This is something there will never really be a standard it all depends on the industry. Yes the graphics standard is generally width by height as mentioned due to design software being x y w h. Though the standard for all newspapers in Australia is height by width and photos have long been presented as height by width (as in 4×6).


  57. Dave Veatch
    March 11, 2016 @ 12:54 am

    This is such a great article! I have a background in video production, but because I live in a small town I had to diversify my skills to survive financially so now I do graphics for web and print. It drives me crazy when I receive dimensions for a graphic and there is no designation for width and height. Since I do quite a bit of graphics, I’ve grown accustomed to width being first. In fact, it’s what prompted me to seek out the truth because of an email that I just received this evening. It came from a non-profit that my client will be sponsoring. I was given the dimensions 3’ X 4’ for a banner that will hang somewhere around a baseball field. I guess if I was gambling in Vegas the odds would be pretty good to win! Maybe I design it both ways to cover my a$$? Ya know… it would be so easy to add at least a W or an H on one side of the measurement. Is that really too much to ask?


  58. Alan
    March 27, 2016 @ 6:20 pm

    I would love to see some of the peoples ideas above be used in construction, god knows how the Eiffel Tower, or the Golden Gate Bridge turn out under some users thoughts process lol, I can’t believe in a few of the above idea’s, and worse the arrogance in thinking there can be only 1 standard used over the ages, and more so the world, it’s varied cultures and specific industry’s.

    The ideal world would have 1 single standard, I’ve only ever used LxWxD, Length x Width (sometimes noted as Breadth) x Depth (or Height), that’s 3D for you, so it would not be unfitting to drop the L for 2D use, which fits with the start of this discussion, what is obvious to one in one area, may not be the same in another, I do believe that the order I gave is the more universally accepted guide, BUT, it doesn’t mean it is always so, a door for example is H (Height) x W (Width), as is the topic starters point.

    Specification means just that, it Specifies the order in which it is done, in construction there is an old adage, measure twice, cut once, my biggest annoyance is where trying to figure out the person offering sizes up for something without specifying their order, more so when offered with a picture that is only slightly different in size on each axis, 1″ (or 25mm) may not seem like much, but it can make or break a project your approaching, so rule of thumb, if in doubt ask.


  59. Steven Collerol
    May 23, 2016 @ 3:03 pm

    I think width and height is rational and to be constructed in a way that when the observer attends to the rather rational dimensions, they would see the first value in their head that is relative to where they are standing. So, if you get a lanscape notebook paper and put it on a table, and then walk away from it, it loses it’s girth because rationally tables are not convex, they are flat and then you will not need dimensions in order to communicate it’s existence, you would just say “letterhead, portrait”


  60. Lina
    May 23, 2016 @ 10:19 pm

    I received a request from my boss to re-size images to 646 x 1000, and there are a lot of storage images. I have applied width x height. Funny, the image looks weird because the storage is built horizontally. Now, I am confused. Need to wait for a clarification for 24 hours because we are from different regions.


  61. aslowhite
    June 6, 2016 @ 11:11 am

    Regardless of what YOU think is the standard, it is still the case that OTHERS either won’t know or won’t agree with you. So, short of convincing everyone in the world to always use whatever method you prefer, it makes sense, as Dave Veatch points out, to just add a W and an H (and L and D if applicable) after the number, e.g., 8.5″W x 11″H.


  62. Caryn
    June 30, 2016 @ 6:40 am

    I ent on this web to ask a simple question, and everyone came up with different answers. My thought is, hen pulling out a tape measure, ruler, etc, I have ALWYS measured widthxheight now that I think about it. So I guess putting 18w x 13h would not confuse anyone.

    Thanks for your help everyone.


  63. Don
    August 11, 2016 @ 12:07 pm

    When I see a drawn rectangle on a piece of paper and I am asked to give the measurements, this is how I always see and measure it.

    My eyes goto the vertical length first and then to the horizontal length next. (from top to bottom on the vertical side — then from left to right on the horizontal side)

    This is how I measure it and how I writ it down. (Vertical measurement first x horizontal measurement last)
    I’m always told this is wrong.

    When I see measurements written out (8″ x10″), I always think 8″ tall and 10″ wide. I’m always told that is not right. (that it is 8″ wide x 10″ tall)


    • Steve Vaught
      August 11, 2016 @ 12:17 pm

      Thanks for the feedback! Sounds like we all just need to stop assuming and define our widths and heights by clearly labeling them!


  64. Chelsea
    August 25, 2016 @ 1:44 pm

    Depends on the industry. In the art world it is correct to list HxW if you are referencing a painting or whatever, but if you’re talking about doors/windows in a lumber store it’s WxH.


  65. Pete Fisher
    September 30, 2016 @ 9:26 pm

    3D = length * width * height
    thus 2D = width * height

    2D is “flat”, using the horizontal and vertical (X and Y) dimensions
    3D adds the depth (Z) dimension

    Based on the well known “length by width by height” and the fact that 2D itself is based on standard X and Y dimensions (always read X axis by Y axis), WIDTH will always come first.

    Using Alegebra:
    2D = X * Y
    3D = (2D) * Z = Z(X * Y) = Z * X * Y


  66. Oscar Apronti
    October 7, 2016 @ 11:54 am

    “In normal practice, the smaller value is assumed to be the width and the bigger value as the height or length. So 8 X 3 would be H X W and 3 X 8 would be W X H.”

    This answer has made more since than anything.


  67. B.A. Stanley
    October 8, 2016 @ 6:16 pm

    The Smithsonian America Art Museum says Hight first – see the link below and scroll down to DIMENSION section –



  68. clove
    December 14, 2016 @ 4:22 am

    thanks guys


  69. winkie
    January 9, 2017 @ 11:14 am

    I’m facing that question right now with an item on eBay. It is a wooden box listed as 12X12X10. But the photo is taken as such an angle I can’t tell the height, which is critical on whether to buy it.

    Easy solution to my problem: I emailed the seller and ASKED. Problem solved.


  70. Tommy Minahan
    January 26, 2017 @ 9:23 pm

    I know this topic is old, but I wanted to give my perspective on why it should be WxH.
    In mathematics your always taught X by Y. It’s always horizontal by vertical. Even with geographical coordinates it’s latitude by longitude.
    I also saw a comment about how photos are always height x width-
    But that’s just bad assuming.
    If I gave you a 4×6 photo, you shouldn’t automatically assume it’s a landscape. 4×6 could clearly be width by height depending on how you hold the photo!

    So, basically in every field the majority is width by height.. and someone needs to have a talk with the smithsonian!


    • Steve Vaught
      January 27, 2017 @ 9:01 am

      My thinking too, Tommy! Thanks for your comment! This topic may be an oldie, but it’s certainly going to be a relevant one for a while I think.


  71. Nomad Trader
    March 16, 2017 @ 12:17 pm

    Incredible – The page at Kindle KDP has it wrong. They say, “The ideal size of your cover art is that for every 1,000 pixels in width, the image should be 1,600 pixels in height. Ideal dimensions for cover files are 2,560 x 1,600.”
    What they should say is, “1,600 x 2,560.” https://kdp.amazon.com/help?topicId=A2J0TRG6OPX0VM#dim


  72. M Frost
    April 16, 2017 @ 3:42 pm

    I work in picture framing and we always do Height, Width, Depth. Then I use Photoshop and it’s all backwards which throws me off.


  73. HC
    June 26, 2017 @ 11:38 pm

    I cannot believe you guys are having this conversation.

    This is simple pre-algebra…

    Coordinates are used as (x,y) which goes down as (width, height).

    Width comes first, height second (period)


  74. Chrysta Feely
    August 1, 2017 @ 2:10 pm

    In terms of graphing, coordinates are alphabetized and should be (x,y) for 2D and (x,y,z) for 2.5D images. The x-axis runs left to right (width) and the y-axis runs up and down (length), the z-axis would be front to back (depth).
    There really is no argument to be made otherwise, unless lunch breaks are really just that dull.
    Width x Length x Depth is standard for my website and, as far as I know, it’s standard in the most basic mathematical concepts.


  75. lisa
    August 14, 2017 @ 6:48 am

    I was searching to find out the order of measurements and thought it was going to be a standard that everyone uses. I’m glad I read all the comments. It could be completely different in China, right? A simple letter after the number would leave no doubt in one’s mind. That should be the required “standard” when writing down measurements, imho!
    I just wrote a retailer to ask what the specific measurements are for a pet carrier that is 16″ x 14″ x 18″. I’m not sure if other countries automatically use the “standard” WxH. It definitely doesn’t look 16 inches wide. I’m hoping it is 18 inches high but it could be 16 or 14! In fact, the width looks half of what is listed! In this case, it needs to be exact for an airline. I’ll see what it means when they respond by email.


  76. Soumak Das
    September 9, 2017 @ 1:04 am

    {Which way do you read (assuming you read English literature)? Left to right, first, then down the length of the page.} this example is awesome! thank you.


  77. BLL
    September 13, 2017 @ 4:47 pm

    I think this is a legitimate conversation, and although I didn’t read all of the comments above. I think “everyone has a way” is an appropriate opinion. That being said…

    (x,y) is for two dimensional layouts or objects, so it is actually Length (x) and Width (y), and not W x H. Height is a three dimensional term (z).

    In math you first learn distance (x – the length along a line). That’s why we plot points along a line/ray with the x coordinate first. The second point (y) is at a distance (or width) from that first point (x). In math it is supposed to be written (or seen) as (x,y) or (L x W).

    However, that really doesn’t matter, because in 2D measurements L and W are essentially interchangeable. When a 2D rectangle is created, it will always have the same measured sides no matter how it is turned. Trust me, cut a flat 4×6 shape and it will be the same as a flat 6×4 shape. LxW could just as easily be written WxL, or HxW, or LxH, etc. It’s all relative, what matters is orientation.

    Also in math, (z) is the depth (Height) coordinate. So when written in mathematical terms, it is actually (x,y,z) or (L x W x H).

    Because we see in three dimensions, and we tend to forget that the base of our feet is the origin point (0,0,0) for our point of view. Our (z) has a depth already because our individual heights. Therefore we turn 2D measurements to our view axis, and write our measurements to match, i.e. WxH. We change the orientation.

    If your having a hard time with this concept, think in terms of point of view. Take for instance birds. They look down at (x,y,z) from above. We look at things from the side, not from the top down. However, we are trained to measure (through math) from the origin point (top down). So we think and measure by naturally changing the orientation based on our point of view.

    So, when looking at a piece of paper, picture, or banner there is actually no (z) depth per say. There is only a L (x) and a W (y). The H (z) is so small as to not matter. We think a banner has height, because after the banner is created, we turn it on the origin point axis, so it is oriented to see it better. That is why we think WxH. “It is as wide as my arms spread, and as tall as a door frame”. The reality is that it was created (printed) along a length (x) and width (y), the height (z) was negligible. When we turned it, we switched the measurements and gave it a WxH or HxW.

    So in conclusion, write it the way you want, but be prepared to explain orientation.


  78. Julianne Gumataotao
    October 25, 2017 @ 7:22 pm

    With 30x37x22 what is the length and all that stuff


  79. Fred
    March 20, 2018 @ 9:16 pm

    According to the International Standards Guide, it is height first followed by width, so this article has it backwards. See points 7.5, 7.6, 11.0, 11.1 in this document: http://www.fineart.co.uk/article/artfacts-standards–taking-recording-and-communicating-dimensions-556.aspx


  80. RBJ
    April 14, 2018 @ 5:07 pm

    By using (L) for length is relative to X, Y, or Z physical axis coordinate points. By referring to L x W x H is a misnomer due to the fact that L can actually be any one of the lengths of Width, Height or Depth of an object.


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