Sources and references

Quick Reference

  • Key reasons why Britain should complete its conversion to the metric system.
  • Objections to UK adopting metric units.
  • Compare how Britain has begun but failed to complete metric conversion while Australia has had a completely successful transition.
  • Compare the positive way decimalisation of our currency was handled in contrast with metrication.
  • The timeline behind Britain adopting the metric system.
  • Read extracts from key reports regarding Britain’s adoption of the metric system.

Detailed references

Official information on the metric system

Information on how the international metric system is managed can be found on the website of the BIPM. The official summary of the international system of units (SI) is given in the SI brochure.

Further information on SI units and recommended use can be found in the International Standards Organisation (ISO) document ISO/IEC 80000 or in the British Standards Institute (BSI) document BS EN ISO 80000-11:2020.

Britain’s National Physical Laboratory provides reference information on SI while the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills offers official Guidance on the Use of Metric Units of Measurement [PDF].

The Institut national de Métrologie is a French site covering a range of official sources of information.

Articles on UK metrication

UKMA’s press and media centre collects a number of articles on metric in the UK. These debunk common myths and misconceptions and come from across the political spectrum.

Other web sites on metrication or the metric system

UK sites

Non-UK sites

USMA logo
Metrication Matters logo

Units of measurement


A useful historical overview of the metric system is The history of measurement by J.J. O’Connor and E.F. Robertson. For the history of UK metrication, see Historical perspectives by the last Director of the Metrication Board.

Reference books

  • Connor, R.D. The weights and measures of England (London: HMSO/Science Museum, 1987) ISBN 0-11-290435-1
    The most definitive volume on the subject. Now sadly out of print, but available in libraries. Professor Connor has recently completed a companion volume on the weights and measures of Scotland, awaiting publication.
  • Cardarelli, François. Scientific unit conversion: practical guide to metrication (London: Springer) ISBN 1-85233-043-0
    Don’t be put off by the title; this is a superb reference of units throughout history, and throughout the world.
  • The Economist desk companion: how to measure, convert, calculate and define practically anything (London: Penguin, 1994) ISBN 0-241-00265-6
    An invaluable resource, including lots of historical information on now obsolete British units.
  • Bond, Shirley. Home measures : the essential reference guide to sizes and measurements for home, office and kitchen (London: Grub Street, 1996) ISBN 1-898697-43-4
  • Darton, Mike & Clark, John. The Dent dictionary of measurement (London: J.M. Dent, 1994) ISBN 0-460-86137-9
  • Kverneland, Knut O. Metric standards for worldwide manufacturing
  • Howell, Jeff. The Sunday Telegraph Guide to Looking after your Property (London, Macmillan 2004) ISBN 1 4050 4658 9