The caliper is an instrument with two legs used for measuring linear dimensions. Calipers may be fixed, adjustable, or movable. Fixed calipers are used in routine inspection of standard products; adjustable calipers are used similarly but can be reset to slightly different dimensions if necessary. Movable calipers can be set to match the distance being measured. The legs may pivot about a rivet or screw in a firm-joint pair of calipers; they may pivot about a pin, being held against the pin by a spring and set in position by a knurled nut on a threaded rod; or the legs may slide either directly (caliper rule) or along a screw (micrometer caliper) relative to each other.
The legs may be shaped to facilitate measuring outside dimensions, inside dimensions, surface dimensions as between points on a plate, or from a surface into a hole as in a keyway.