Scale Terminology

Below you will find some commonly used scale terms in the scale industry that may help you understand what you are looking for in a scale or balance. As always, if there is something you are unsure of, please give our customer service a call or click on chat on the upper right side of the page and we will help you find what you are looking for. Our goal is to help you become more informed on the most important features and details of our products. Knowing our scale terminology will help you locate the perfect choice for you.


The degree of agreement between the displayed and true value of the quantity measured. Accuracy of a scale's results must be looked at based on the accuracy of the whole system and not just one component. This includes the environment in which the scale is used, what is being weighed, the operator's use of the scale and how the scale is maintained. The accuracy of the scale should be appropriate for the application and the cost of the item being weighed.

A piece of equipment is accurate when its performance or value conforms to the standard within the applicable tolerances and other performance requirements

Alpha Numeric
Denoting a set of characters which contains both letters and numbers.

Ambient Temperature
The temperature of the medium surrounding the load cell.

Analog Input or Remote Input
An additional input on a scale that allows a remote base to be attached to the scale for two-platform counting. This allows the counting scale to provide the precision of a smaller scale while the remote base provides a higher capacity than the counting scale. The actual counting resolution will be bounded by the capabilities of the counting scale. Applications include annual inventories or packaging where a counting scale is connected to a floor scale base, with the counting scale determining the Average Piece Weight of the parts and the floor scale base providing a higher capacity for counting large boxes of parts.

Analytical Balance
An electronic balance characterized by a precision/capacity ratio of 1/500,000 or better and a readability of 0.1 mg or better, often with a draftshield to minimize disturbances to the weighing platform.

A type of span calibration for scales with a single internal calibration mass, where the scale initiates a calibration automatically based on a change in temperature.

Automatic Tare
A tare function where the scale automatically records the tare weight based on the first item placed on the scale. May be set for a set period of time for the tare weight to be accepted.

Auto Off
A software routine that turns off a scale after a set period of inactivity which may be set through menu options on a scale.

Average Piece Weight (APW)
The average net weight of each piece (or part) in a sample recorded by dividing the net weight of all pieces together by the number of pieces in the sample.

Avoirdupois Weight
A system of measure based on the pound unit that equals 16 ounces, or 7,000 grains that is equal to 453.59 grams.


The background lighting element on a display, usually an LED backlight to a LCD display. May be set through menu options on a scale.

An instrument for weighing, usually of higher resolution and capacity of 8kg or less.

A bar or structural member, usually horizontal, supported at either or both ends and sometimes at one or more intermediate points, subjected to loads that tend to bend it.

Beam Scale
A scale where the weight on the platform are indicated solely by means of one or more weigh-beam bars either alone or in combination with counterpoise weights.

Below Balance Weighing
Allows users to weigh from below the balance, instead of using the weighing platter above. Ideal for measuring the density of objects by weighing them below the balance, both inside and outside of a container filled with water.

Bench Scale
A scale adapted for use on a counter or bench, often for industrial applications. Usually of a higher capacity and lower resolution than a balance.


Comparing and adjusting a measuring instrument to a reference point or standard unit of measure - in the case of scales, to a known mass. Calibration is critical to accuracy, as all weighing instruments are affected by local gravity. Most scales are calibrated at the factory, but they can be affected by shipment, so calibration should be verified at installation and performed periodically to maintain accuracy. How often to calibrate a scale is based on the role of the scale, with the more critical the scale or balance is to an operation, the more often it should be calibrated, as well as how harsh the environment is on the scale. Periodic calibration may also be defined by certification requirements (such as legal for trade) as well as by the operations' standard operating procedures. Calibration can be Manual (adjusting a screw), Semi-Automatic (user is prompted by scale to place calibration mass on platform), or Automatic (the balance calibrates itself when needed).

Calibration Certificate
A calibration certificate can only be done at the place of installation for a balance. None of our balances ship with a calibration certificate. The calibration certificate must be done in the place the scale will be used due to a few different reasons such as: shipping, magnetic pull of the earth, and barometric pressure all causing the scale to react differently in different areas of the country.


The maximum weight measureable by the scale on its platform, when combined with a minimum load value (usually 0), defines the scale's Weighing Range.

A weighing device which receives individual objects or packages, determines precisely the weight of each, compares that weight with a predetermined standard, and generates signals which distinguish items as being correct or incorrect.

Displaying the weight of an object as it relates to an acceptance range (Over, Under or OK), often with additional indications like red, yellow or green LEDs. Used for checking product weights for uniformity or for creating equal portions of a product. Common applications include food and other packaging, filling and quality control checks.

Counting Resolution
The highest count a scale can support based on the capacity divided by the minimum Average Piece Weight. May refer to an external counting resolution, which can be displayed by the scale, or an internal counting resolution used as part of the counting process.

Crane Scale
A scale specially designed for weighing heavy loads while being handled by a crane.


Symbol for the minimum division (d) that can be indicated or recorded.

The weight of the platter and weighing frame on the load cell.

Density Determination
The density of a solid, liquid or gas can be determined using a balance or scale, where Density = Mass / Volume. Density can be calculated using a weigh below feature, based on several methods for liquids and gases. The balance automatically calculates and guides the user through the density determination procedure. Results can be printed or sent to a computer.

A statistically derived value representing the randomness among independent measurements of the same true value.

Display Hold
Manually or automatically holds the last stable weight on the balance display. This mode is perfect for weighing oversized objects that may obstruct view of the displayed weight reading.

Dual Range
A weighing range where a portion of the range has a higher readability than the rest of the range, as limited by the capabilities of the scale.

Dynamic (or Animal) Weighing
Weighing an object that is moving, or where the environment is making it move, with a set time for averaging weighments to provide a weight result. Common applications include livestock pens, veterinarian use, and boxes in unstable environments.


Floor Scale
Any platform scale designed for installation with the platform surface at or near floor level.


Symbol for gram.

The minimum unit of readability set by a scale.

The accelerating tendency of bodies toward the center of the earth. Its symbol is "g", and its value varies geographically. Gravity affects all weighing instruments at different elevations, so balances and scales should be calibrated onsite after installation.

Gross/Net/Tare Weighing
Selectively displays any combination of Gross/Net/ or Tare weight based on the user's choice.

Gross Indicator
A display element that indicates a gross weight (as opposed to a Net or Tare weight) to the operator.

Gross Weight
The weight of a quantity of goods, including the container and wrapping which contains the goods; the total weight of the merchandise or goods without deduction for tare or waste. Equal to Net Weight of the item plus the Tare Weight of the container. Not used in legal for trade applications as the basis for sale.


Hanging Scale
Any scale designed to be hung from an overhead support, and whose load-receiving element is suspended from the scale.

High Point Weighing
The balance will automatically remember and hold the highest weight reading which occurs in a series of weighings.

An enclosure around the working mechanism of a scale or scale indicator.


I/O Settings
Settings for an input/output device like AC or DC relays. These settings will govern how the device operates when certain weight conditions are reached. Often used for controlling external equipment based on weight as part of a process.

A type of span calibration for scales with a single internal calibration mass, where the operator initiates a calibration manually which is then automatically performed by the scale.

The value of the smallest unit that can be indicated or recorded by a digital device in normal operation.

A device which indicates weight by converting the original weight signal to a form of display, regardless of its location relative to the load receiving element.


Jewelers Scale
One adapted to weighing gems and precious metals.


Symbol for kilogram.


Symbol for pound.

Legal For Trade
A term used to indicate that the scale is approved for use in commercial transactions, where items are bought and sold by weight, volume and/or length; though there may be additional applications for which approved scales must be used (Prescribed Applications). Legal For Trade (LFT) standards seek to make sure that the scale or balance performs consistently within predetermined maximum permissible errors, it has been calibrated properly and that the calibration cannot be changed. Some LFT standards include NTEP certification (US), Measurement Canada Approval (Canada), OIML (International) and EC-type Approval (Europe).

Leveling Foot
In a small capacity scale, especially one designed to be moved from place to place, an adjustable foot provided to aid in leveling the scale.

Linear Calibration
A combination of a span calibration and a linearization of the curve, usually based on 0%, 50% and of 100% capacity. May be 3 or more points on the weighing curve.

Linearity Error
The deviation of the scale's displayed results compared to a theoretical straight line between 0 and maximum capacity -- the higher the value, the less linearity accuracy.


The weight or force applied to the load-receiving element.

A transducer which translates downward force into a proportional electrical signal, which is then converted and adjusted by hardware and software to display a weight on an indicating element.


The science of weights and measures.

Moisture Determination
Thermogravimetric moisture analyzers which can very rapidly calculate percent moisture, percent solid, and percent regain in a given sample.


NSF Certified
NSF International is an accredited, independent third-party certification body that tests and certifies products to verify they meet these public health and safety standards. Products that meet these standards bear the NSF mark

Net Weight
The weight of an item being weighed, without the weight of a container, box, or other packaging. Used in legal for trade applications as the basis for sale.


The International Organization of Legal Metrology (OIML) is an intergovernmental treaty organization whose membership includes Member States, countries which participate actively in technical activities, and Corresponding Members, countries which join the OIML as observers. It was established in 1955 (see the Convention) in order to promote the global harmonization of legal metrology procedures. Since that time, the OIML has developed a worldwide technical structure that provides its Members with metrological guidelines for the elaboration of national and regional requirements concerning the manufacture and use of measuring instruments for legal metrology applications.

The load where the gross weight on the scale platform exceeds the capabilities of the scale.


In a small-capacity scale of the counter type, a saucer-like load receiving element, usually circular, separable, and formed of a suitable metal.

Parts Counting
Counting groups of a part by recording a net weight of the parts and dividing it by an Average Piece Weight (Average Piece Weight) that has been statistically derived from a representative sample of the product being weighed.

Percent Weighing
Displaying a sample weight as a percentage of the total reference weight recorded in memory.

A horizontal and generally flat member or element of a scale, usually rectangular, occasionally square, designed to act as the load receiving element.

Power On Unit
The weighing unit a scale will show when turned on. May be selected in software for some scales.

The degree of agreement between repeated measurements of the same quantity. The numerical value of precision is normally expressed as the result of the calculation of the standard deviation.

Print Output
The information a scale outputs using a communications port, as defined by certain conditions (on stability, based on a set period of time or continuously) and with certain contents which may be user-selected (weight result, gross weight, net weight, tare weight, programmed text header, user ID, project ID, scale ID, date/time, difference of a calibration test, weighing mode information, and other information).

Programmed (or Pre-set) Tare
A tare function using a tare weight entered with a keypad or recalled from memory.


The smallest fraction of a division to which a scale can read. The smallest difference in mass that can be displayed on a scale -- commonly signified as "d" -- also called divisions or increments. Must be specified in conjunction with a tolerance for repeatability and linearity for true product comparison.

Repeatability (also Reproducibility)
How the scale will measure the same value over several measurements, expressed as a Standard Deviation (1 Sigma). The higher the value, the greater the variance in results, and the less accurate the scale.

The total number of divisions based on capacity divided by readability. Expressed as a ratio 1:X,XXX, or in divisions X,XXXd or X,XXXe. Legal For Trade resolutions are based on known standards (NTEP, OIML, Measurement Canada, EC) and are tested by a third party.

Retail Price Computing
Computing a total price for an object based on a price/lb and net weight. Often a LFT application.


A device for weighing or a series of graduations.

A basin-like, detachable, load receiving element of a small capacity scale, frequently provided as an accessory to a counter scale.

Scoop Counterbalance
In a scale provided with a removable scoop, a permanently attached device intended to counterbalance the weight of the empty scoop.

Slotted Weight
A cylindrical weight with a radial slot to permit it to be applied on a counterpoise hanger.

Span Calibration
A calibration performed at 0 and 100% of capacity. A span calibration can correct the slope, but not the linearity error, of a scale.

Specific Gravity
Comparing the density of a mixture or solid against the same volume of water, expressed as either 1 (equal specific gravity to water), less than 1 (less dense than water) or greater than 1 (more dense). Often used to assess mixtures to ensure proper aeration.

Spring Scale
A scale in which the applied load is counterpoised, either directly or indirectly through a lever train -- by a counterforce induced axially in a helical spring -- whose extension is translated by suitable means into an indication of weight value.

The degree of constancy of measurement of an instrument when subject to variation in external factors such as time, temperature and supply voltage.

Stabilization Time
The length of time a scale requires to display a stable weight value depending on the scale's environment, software filters, etc.

Stable Range
A weight tolerance, expressed as a number of divisions, within which a scale will display a stable weight.

Static Weighing
Weighing a non-moving object (as opposed to dynamic or animal weighing). Often-used in general weighing, shipping and receiving.

Statistical Weighing
This mode captures statistical data from a series of weighings. This data can be displayed graphically, printed, or sent to a computer. Statistical weighing is ideal for the analysis, documentation and control of many like samples.


Tare Weight
Weight of the box or container used to weigh an item. Not used in legal for trade applications as the basis for sale.

Compensating for the tare weight of a container by setting the displayed weight to zero (net) before weighing the container and the container's contents.

Tare Range
The capacity range within which a scale can still display a net weight after taring a container.

Test Weight
A weight expressly designed and constructed for testing commercial scales and weights.

Accumulation of data for a set of weighments, sometimes with statistics. May be set as automatic or as requiring an input from the operator. This mode is great in helping avoid manual documentation and calculation errors, as results can be printed or sent to a computer.

Triple Beam
A weigh-beam comprising three bars, usually in the same vertical plane.


A scale is designed to display 0 with the weight of the platter and weighing frame on the load cell. Underload occurs when the weighing platter (and possibly frame) is removed, or when the weighing platform or frame is mechanically affected so that the load of the frame (and platform) is not on the load cell, affecting the accuracy of the weighment.


Warm-Up Time
The length of time a scale requires to reach thermal equilibrium, once it is provided power. Usually 30 minutes, assuming the scale is acclimated to environment.

Weigh Below
An attachment point on the bottom of the scale allows weighing below the balance, usually on a hook. Also called "weigh below balance" or "weigh below hook". Commonly used for hydrostatic (in water) density determination or weighing sample buckets.

Weighing Unit
The unit that a weight, or mass for a calibrated scale, is displayed. May vary according to application, country and be based on legal requirements. The most common weighing units are Avoirdupois (lb, oz, tonnes, Grains, pennyweights, troy ounces, carats) and Metric (kg, g, mg, metric tonnes

The force with which a mass is attracted toward the center of the earth by gravity. An object, usually of metal, having a definite mass, designed for weighing or testing purposes, as, a counterpoise weight, a test weight, etc.


Setting the gross weight displayed on a scale to zero, with the zeroing range limited by software (LFT or approved modes) and new zero value affected by Auto-Zero Tracking (AZT).