Personal Body Unit Index


Poster In Use A_C

Personal Body Unit Index
is a tool to sharpen your internal sense of physical scale.

We obsessively measure things. How high is that coat hook? How wide is that table? Is that really 3” diameter tube stock? Instead of carrying around a tape measure, we use our bodies to measure stuff!


Personal Body Unit Index is a poster featuring a series of diagrams of the body in 17 useful positions for measuring things which relate in scale to the human body.

Each diagram has an area to pencil in your personal dimensions. You probably know how tall you are, but do you know your fathom? That’s the distance between the tips of your fingers when you spread out your arms.


What’s this for?

It is really useful to have an intuitive sense of scale. Whether you’re rearranging furniture in your house, or at a hardware store trying to pick the right diameter pipe fitting.

As designers, we spend a lot of time working on computers, handling raw materials and getting a feel for objects that surround us. Computer screens make blue whales and pinky nails spatially indistinguishable. When we work our desks are cluttered with rulers, calipers and tape measures to constantly reference the physical dimensions of something that lives on a screen. Taylor even keeps a ruler taped to her screen!

Living with Personal Body Unit Index as a reference chart, as something that you can peek at on the fly, helps build up your superpower sense of scale.

How does it work?

Poster Use B_B

Think of this as an awesome looking cheat sheet to turn your body into a measuring device. Pencil in your personal measurements in the callout boxes.


Hang the poster in your studio, workspace, kitchen, bathroom, hallway, etc. so that glancing at it becomes an subconscious habit.

Personal Body Unit Index : Use your body as a measuring tool. from cw&t on Vimeo.

Why did we make this?

Che-Wei’s Mom often does this weird finger walking thing along the edges of furniture, fabric or random stuff. She knows that the spread of her hand from thumb tip to pinky tip measures 18cm. So she can quickly size things up. We always thought this was funny, until we realized that it is GENIUS and we started to copy her.

We made Personal Body Unit Index to help us enhance our internal sense of scale, so we are less dependent on traditional measuring devices. And so we can be more like Che-Wei’s Mom.

Poster Specifications

  • Measures 12″x39″ (228mm x 990mm).
  • Printed with 2 PANTONE® spot colors (Grey and Neon Orange).
  • Printed on 100# Classic Crest Eggshell Solar White Paper.

Many of the 17 measurements featured in Personal Body Unit Index have historical precedence rooted in some ancient unit of measurement. The cubit, for example, is an ancient unit based on forearm length from elbow to fingertip. Other human based units included are fathom and span along with a bunch of other ways of measuring things with your body that we find useful.

Drawing of the poster …

(The color is an estimate of the spot color that will be used during production.)



We started this project in the winter of 2013 while visiting Che-Wei’s family in Tokyo. It’s gone through many many many design iterations over the past few years and we’re really happy with where it has landed. Here’s a peek into our process.

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