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Metal Container Basics

How to Read Can Dimensions

Metal Cans sizes used in the United States are based on nominal outside dimensions of the can. Typically, the conventional method is to use a 3-digit number to express each dimension.

The first digit indicates the number of whole inches in a dimension, and the second and third digits indicate the fractional inches as sixteenths of an inch.

Thus, if the dimension is listed as 404, the dimension would be 4-4/16 inches.

For example: A round gallon metal paint can described as 610 x 708 would mean that the can is 6-5/8 inches in diameter x 7-1/2 inches tall (after the fractions are reduced).

The first three digit number indicates the diameter of the can and the second three digit number represents the height of the can.

In stating the dimensions of an oblong shaped can (ie: metal F-Style can), the first two three digit numbers represent the footprint (length and width of the can) and the third three digit number represents the height of the can.


For example:  An oblong gallon metal can described as 403 x 610 x 907 would mean that the can is 4-3/16 wide x 6-5/8 long x 9-7/16 inches in height (fractions reduced).

In certain industries, such as food cans or paint cans for example, there are particular can end diameters used on various size (volume) cans that are considered industry standard, which may have varying heights to reach a particular volume.

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