Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Digital How-To

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Digital How-To

Article excerpt

God and the devil are in the details

The experience blessedly takes the curse off changing those details into useful forms

Why do these questions always arise on your watch? On deadline, your news editor bounces back your city council story with a question about that contract for 4,000 square yards of new carpeting. He wants to know how much that is per square foot.

Or the foreign publication you're consulting for a story refers to a new product weighing in at "160 kilograms." So, uh, what's that in good old-fashioned pounds?

Or you've been hanging out with sailors again and they keep referring to a craft that travels "20 knots." Can you convert that to something your landlubber readers will understand, like "miles-per-hour"?

Or the historical material you've found speaks of numbers of "hogsheads" of whiskey that used to come downriver past your city in the old steamboatin' days. How many gallons are in a hogshead, anyway?

Or the wires report that forest fires have destroyed so many "board feet" of timber in your state. Can you convert that into, say, cubic feet? Why didn't your journalism teachers warn you the job would require math skills?

Well, maybe they anticipated the arrival of the Internet and its ability to sweat the details. A site called can do all of these -- and more than 8,000 other calculations -- in seconds. Its conversion calculators are organized by type (time, temperature, length, financial, cooking, etc.), and each conversion page includes numerous options. Quick links to other conversions also are provided on each page so you don't have to return to the main screen. This handy, easy-to-use site belongs in your online toolkit.

To check it out, visit the site at where a no-nonsense introductory page gets right down to business, providing links to more than a dozen categories, including:

Angles. Gradients, radians, degrees, minutes, seconds, points -- all that stuff you have so successfully forgotten from geometry class.

Area. For your carpeting questions, this covers square feet and square yards, but also miles, acres, circles, and so on.

Astronomical. Covering light-years, parsecs, and more.

Cooking. Need to know how many tablespoons are in a cup? …

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