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The shortcut for converting metric units
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The shortcut for converting metric units is:
1) count how many powers of 10 the units are apart from each other.
2) move the decimal point that many places...
move the decimal point that many places 
...to the right when converting to
   smaller units.

Because:
Moving the decimal to the right makes a
number bigger.

There are more smaller units in an amount than there
are larger units in the same amount.

So our number should get bigger
(more smaller units).
...to the left when converting to
   larger units.

Because:
Moving the decimal to the left makes
number lower.

There are fewer larger units in an amount than there
are smaller units in the same amount.

So our number should get lower
(fewer larger units).
The table below is part of Table 10, showing the power of 10 that each prefix unit is worth of the root unit, using meter as an example root unit.
Examples: Shortcut for Converting Metric Units.
The table below is part of Table in the previous lesson, showing the power of 10 that each prefix unit is worth of the root unit, using meter as an example root unit.
NOTE: We are back to using negative powers of 10 in this table!

Unit Symbol Equivalents
1 "prefix unit" =
this many root units
Mm 1 Mm = 106 m
NA 1 NAm = 105  m
NA 1 NAm = 104  m
km 1 km = 103 m
hm 1 hm = 102 m
dam 1 dam = 101 m
Root Unit 1 m = 100 m
dm 1 dm = 10-1 m
cm 1 cm = 10-2 m
mm 1 mm = 10-3 m
NA 1 NAm = 10-4  m
NA 1 NAm = 10-5  m
mium 1 mium = 10-6 m
Example 1:
Convert 467 dm to km.
Step 1.
Count how many powers of 10
between dm and km.
There are 4.
Step 2.
Decide which direction to move the
decimal.

We're converting into larger units, so
move the decimal to the left.

(Larger units mean fewer of them,
thus a lower number than we started with.)
Convert 467 dm to km.
People who saw this lesson also found the following lessons useful:
Converting Metric Units into Another Metric Units
Writing Equivalents
Writing Equivalents with Whole Numbers
Creating Conversion Factor from Equivalent
How to Convert Metric Units
How Numbers Behave When Multiplied or Divided by Positive Powers of Ten
To Convert Between Two Prefix Units
 
   
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