What Is Scale?


Scaling enables researchers to shrink real-world objects into comparatively smaller dimensions on paper for the purpose of analysis. It is especially important for maps and blueprints used in construction, engineering, and other fields.

A common limitation reported by researchers during the scale development process is lack of manualized instructions that regulate data analysis. Future research in this area should seek to remedy this limitation.


A ratio is a comparison between two quantities. For example, you might compare the size of a painting to its frame. The proportion of the painting to its frame is the same as the size of the painting divided by the size of the frame. The proportion of a piece of furniture to its room is the same as the size of the piece divided by the size of the room. The proportion of an animal to its environment is the same as the size of the animal divided by the size of the habitat.

When you scale a shape, it becomes smaller. The proportion of the new shape to its original size is called its scaling factor. For example, when you scale a shape by a factor of 1, it becomes half the size of its original form. This is known as scaling up. You can change the drawing scale, display units and unit type in the Settings menu.


A scale is a method of classifying things by their relative size, amount, or rank. The higher the rank on a scale, the more important the thing.

In music, a scale is any set of musical notes ordered by their fundamental frequency or pitch. A scale that ascends is called a major scale and one that descends is a minor scale.

Musicians often practice scales to develop a good feel for them. They may also use them precompositionally to limit or guide a composition, as in the opening pages of Claude Debussy’s L’Isle Joyeuse.

In Western tonal music, scales are usually separated by whole and half-step intervals of tones and semitones creating 12 scale steps per octave. Based on their interval patterns, scales are put into categories including diatonic, chromatic, major and minor. These scales are often used in modulation, a system of changing from one scale to another. They are also known as modal scales.


In art and cinema, scale refers to the relationship between different components of an object or subject. Sculptures, paintings and even architecture all make use of proportions and scale to create a feeling of size in the viewer. In filmmaking, this is accomplished through various techniques such as forced perspective.

Scale is also an important concept in geography, which studies the process of converting the three-dimensional Earth into a two-dimensional visual representation, a map. For example, scale is used to shrink vast lands into small sections on paper, so that they can be easily handled by architects and machine-makers.

Music theorists are interested in the way that scales occur in musical melodies. Many of the most interesting examples involve non-Western music, where musicians may not be cognizant of scales as theoretical concepts, but nonetheless produce melodies with recognizable scale patterns. Musicians also use scales to define the intervals between notes. Scales are arranged in order of increasing or decreasing pitch class (also known as octave) and can have either hemitonic or cohemitonic intervals.


Often scales display their results in weight units such as kilograms, pounds, or ounces. Some scales and balances, however, can show a result in mass units like kilograms or newtons.

When a load is placed on a balance, the mechanical strain of the load causes one end of the load cell to bend downwards. A strain gauge within the load cell senses this deformation and converts it to a digital signal. The signal is then interpreted by the micro-controller that drives the numeric display.

Some industrial scales can even measure in a range of other unit systems including grams, ounces, slugs, gallons, and percentages. For more information, consult your scale or balance’s user manual. It will typically give specific instructions on how to change the weighing mode and display your desired measurement unit. If you need help finding your scale’s user manual, you can search for it on our Products page. Alternatively, Mettler-Toledo offers a full list of product literature that can be accessed by clicking the links for each item in our Laboratory Balances category.

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