How Are Laptop Screens Measured? Learn Now

When buying a laptop, one of the factors that can usually lead a person to narrow down his choices is the size of the laptop’s screen because the overall size of the laptop all boils down from there. The bigger the screen, the heavier and less space-efficient the laptop is but the same large screen allows for better viewing. Meanwhile, smaller screens are more compact but not as spacious as large screens. That said, how are laptop screens even measured?

Laptop screens are measured diagonally across from one point to another. You measure the distance between one corner and the other corner that is diagonally opposite to it so that you can tell the size of the laptop’s screen. This is contrary to the belief that laptop screens are measured horizontally.

So, in case you tried measuring your laptop screen horizontally but you found out that it was less than what was advertised, you might have found yourself getting disappointed. However, screens are actually measured diagonally because of how you look at a laptop’s screen focused on the plane inside its horizontal and vertical measurements. That said, here are more things that you need to know about laptop screens and how they are measured.

laptop tape measure

How to measure your laptop screen?

Today’s world relies too heavily on laptops as plenty of different people all over the country own laptops for their own unique reasons. Most laptop owners use their laptops for work because it allows them to work conveniently and remotely while they are traveling or when they are at home. Meanwhile, there are others who use laptops for gaming or entertainment either at home or whenever they are on the go.

In that regard, when people choose laptops for their own unique purposes, one of the things that they look at aside from the laptop’s technical specifications is its screen size. That’s because the size of the laptop’s screen dictates a lot of the things about the laptop such as its overall size and the experience that you would have while you are using a laptop.

So, with that said, measuring a laptop’s screen becomes quite important today because different laptops come in different sizes depending on who they are made for and for what purpose they were designed. But, before we get to that point, we still have a few more important things to discuss your laptop’s screen size.

Laptop screens aren’t measured using their dimensions

The first thing that you need to know when you are looking for a laptop or whenever you want to measure a laptop’s screen size is that the size of the screen is not measured by looking at the laptop’s dimensions. That’s because the dimensions don’t always dictate how big the laptop’s screen is.

In most cases, when people look at laptops and when they are measuring the screen size, the first thing they think of is that the size of the laptop is dictated by its horizontal width. So, if a laptop is advertised at 13 inches, does that mean that it is 13 inches wide from end to end? Not exactly because, as mentioned, laptop screens are not measured using their dimensions.

For example, let us look at these three different laptops and their screen sizes with respect to their dimensions:

MacBook AirLenovo Thinkpad X395Dell Inspiron

So, if you have noticed from above, these three laptops are all advertised at 13 inches or a bit more than 13 inches in terms of the size of their screen. However, when you look at it, they have totally different widths that are far from the 13 inches that their screen size is advertised to be. This leads to the logical conclusion that screen size is not the same as the laptop’s horizontal width. Of course, the laptop’s screen size will always be measured to be larger than its width, as we will see later on.

From there, the first thing that you should get out of your head when you are looking for a new laptop is that the screen size is not the same as the laptop’s horizontal width. These are two different things that have their own different purposes in relation to the laptop. As long as you understand that fact, it becomes easier for you to understand how laptops are measured and why some laptops may have similar screen sizes but totally different dimensions.

Of course, the dimensions are also important because knowing the dimensions will allow you to tell whether or not you can fit the laptop into something such as a laptop sleeve or a bag. Nevertheless, you should know for a fact that the dimensions are not the same as the screen size.

laptop with blank screen on wall brick

The importance of knowing or measuring your laptop screen

As you are reading this, you might be wondering why you actually need to know the size of your laptop’s screen and how to measure it. After all, just reading the specs can be enough for you to know the size of the laptop’s screen. But there are actually some good reasons why it is important for you to know how a laptop’s screen is measured.

The first thing reason why you knowing how to measure your laptop’s screen is important is that it allows you to be able to buy different accessories and protective gear for your laptop. That’s because when you are out to choose accessories that fit your laptop, you are going to have to base it on the marketed screen size of your laptop instead of its actual dimensions.

So, for example, if you are looking for a protective shell for your 13” MacBook Pro, you don’t ask the sales representative for a protective shell that is 11.97 inches wide. Instead, you ask him for a protective shell for your 13” MacBook Pro.

Knowing how to measure screen size will also allow you to approximately tell how large the screen is when you are merely shopping online and not in person. So, when you are shopping for a good laptop online, the specs are shown. While the dimensions of the laptop are given, the better way for you to tell how large the screen is is by looking at the screen size and not the dimensions.

You will understand why the laptop’s dimensions do not dictate your viewing experience later on. However, when you know the screen size, you can simply get a measuring tape and then use it to approximate the kind of viewing experience you will get with that screen size.

As such, knowing the size of the laptop’s screen makes it easier for you to purchase accessories and approximate the viewing experience you will get while using the laptop before you even buy it.

Dell Inspiron Laptops

The correct way to measure a laptop screen

Now that we have the preliminaries out of the way, it is now time for us to know how to measure a laptop’s screen size. And when measuring the laptop screen size, we are only basing it on the part of the screen where you can actually see the laptop’s display instead of the actual screen itself.

That said, the only way for you to measure a laptop’s screen size is by looking at one corner of the laptop’s display without including the bezels. Base it only on the parts of the corner that actually displays something. From there, measure diagonally across the entire screen over to the corner opposite of the first corner. That is how you measure the laptop’s screen size as laptop screen sizes are measured diagonally from corner to corner.

The one important thing you need to remember here is that you should never include the laptop’s bezels when you are measuring the screen size. The bezels are the parts of the screen that don’t display anything. In most cases, these are the black parts of the screen when the laptop is turned on.

It is also the size of the bezels that actually dictate how compact the laptop is. Going back to our example of the three 13-inch laptops that we compared, you can see that the one that has the shortest width is the MacBook Air. This also means that it has the smallest bezels out of the three as the 13-inch laptop screen was able to fit a laptop with relatively smaller dimensions.

So, the smaller the bezel is, the better the laptop is because it also means that the laptop will be smaller and more compact in comparison to other laptops with a similar screen size but larger dimensions. Also, having smaller bezels make the viewing experience better because the bezels can be distracting. Having smaller bezels also gives the laptop’s screen the illusion of looking larger than it actually is.

Laptop screen size chart

So, the thing that you also need to know is that there are no laptops that come with the same screen sizes because it does depend on the manufacturer and the type of laptop they want to sell and market. That said, here are some of the most common laptop screen sizes you will see in the market:

Size in InchesSize in Centimeters

In such screen sizes, you can give or take a few decimal points from the laptop screen sizes but these are usually the standard sizes that you will find in most laptops regardless of what their brands may be. It also is rare to find a laptop with a screen size that’s bigger than 17 inches but, in the past, it wasn’t uncommon for you to see large and clunky laptops with large screens.

But because we are now in an era where people use laptops that are compact and less likely to take up space, most of the laptop screen sizes are somewhere between 13 to 15 inches. Meanwhile, the 17 inches laptops are usually reserved for gamers and for entertainment purposes. On the other hand, laptop screens that are between 11 and 13 inches are the ones that are made to be compact for people who are always working on the go.

HP laptop on table at home

How to know the screen size of a laptop without measuring

So, if you don’t have a measuring tape or a ruler to measure the screen size of your laptop, there are other ways for you to know its screen size without measuring:

Look it up

The first way for you to know your laptop’s screen sizes is by looking it up on the internet. You can simply look for your laptop’s model number, which can be found under it. Type the model number in your preferred search engine and you will be able to see the laptop’s specs, which will most likely include its screen size.

Finding it on your laptop’s information page

Another way for you to know your laptop’s screen size without measuring it or without looking it up on the internet is to actually look for your laptop’s specs in its information page. The way you do this will depend on whether you have an Apple or a Windows laptop.

For those who are using Apple’s MacBook products, it is quite easy to know how large your MacBook’s screen size is. On the laptop’s screen, look for the apple icon on the top left corner of your display. Click on it and you will find the “About This Mac” option just under the Apple icon. Clicking on that will lead you to your MacBook’s information page, which includes its specs and the laptop’s screen size.

Meanwhile, those who are using Windows 10 can locate the screen size in the settings panel. You can do so by making a quick search in the laptop’s taskbar, which should pop out when you click on the Windows icon on the desktop page. Simply enter “display” on the search option in the laptop’s taskbar so that Windows will suggest that you open “Display Settings”. After opening the Display Settings, look for Advanced Display Settings, which will show you the size of the laptop’s screen.


I'm Rob, the founder of I’m a Marine Corps vet with a master’s degree in Information Systems and have been working in the technology field for over a decade.

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