About Liters or Litres

In British English it is spelled "Litre", in American English it is spelled "Liter".

The liter is a unit of volume. Officially the word "liter" is defined as a unit of measure that equals to exactly one cubic decimeter (dm3).

In the SI system (International Sytem of Units) all multiples are integer powers of 10 - see chart below:

  US gallon
1 cubic centimeter 1/1000 cubic decimeters 0.000264172052
1 cubic decimeter =1000 cubic centimeters = 1 Liter 0.264172052
1 cubic meter =1000 cubic decimeters or 1000 Liters (which is 1 metric ton) 264.172052

  Imperial gallon
1 cubic centimeter 1/1000 cubic decimeters 0.000219969157 
1 cubic decimeter =1000 cubic centimeters = 1 Liter 0.219969157 
1 cubic meter =1000 cubic decimeters or 1000 Liters (which is 1 metric ton) 219.969157

  Liter
1 cubic centimeter 1/1000 cubic decimeters 0.001
1 cubic decimeter =1000 cubic centimeters = 1 Liter 1
1 cubic meter =1000 cubic decimeters or 1000 Liters (which is 1 metric ton) 1000

The official symbols for the liter is the letter L - both uppercase L or lowercase l are acccepted. This is becuase the lowecase l looks very similar to the number 1 and it cause confusions so the uppercase L was introducted.


How to imagine one liter? What's one liter in practical life?

The following examples are approximate using common objects to help visualize and understand just how much one liter is:

One liter is about 4 cups of water for example which means that 1 cup of water is about 1/4 liters, 1 cup being approximately 250 mL (milliliters)

One liter is a bit more than 3 cans of regular sized pop. A large bottle (not extra large) of ketchup is also about 1 litre in volume. Two pints of beer is about one liter as well.

One liter of water by the way weighs exactly one kilogram (roughly 2 pounds)