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The National Physical Laboratory is operated on behalf of the DTI by NPLManagement Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of Serco Group plc
A Beginner's Guideto Uncertainty ofMeasurement
Stephanie Bell
Issue 2
No. 11
 MeasurementGood Practice Guide
 Measurement Good Practice Guide No. 11 (Issue 2)A Beginner’s Guide to Uncertainty of Measurement
Stephanie BellCentre for Basic, Thermal and Length Metrology
 National Physical Laboratory
The aim of this Beginner’s Guide is to introduce the subject of measurementuncertainty. Every measurement is subject to some uncertainty. A measurement result is onlycomplete if it is accompanied by a statement of the uncertainty in the measurement.Measurement uncertainties can come from the measuring instrument, from the item beingmeasured, from the environment, from the operator, and from other sources. Such uncertaintiescan be estimated using statistical analysis of a set of measurements, and using other kinds of information about the measurement process. There are established rules for how to calculate anoverall estimate of uncertainty from these individual pieces of information. The use of good practice – such as traceable calibration, careful calculation, good record keeping, and checking – can reduce measurement uncertainties. When the uncertainty in a measurement is evaluated andstated, the fitness for purpose of the measurement can be properly judged.
© Crown Copyright 1999.Reproduced by permission of the Controller of HMSO.ISSN 1368-6550August 1999Issue 2 with amendments March 2001 National Physical LaboratoryTeddington, Middlesex, United Kingdom, TW11 0LWThis Guide was produced under the Competing Precisely project - a measurement awarenessraising campaign within the National Measurement Partnership Programme, managed on behalf of the DTI by the National Physical Laboratory. NPL is the UK’s centre for measurementstandards, and associated science and technology.For more information, or for help with measurement problems, contact the NPL Helpline on:020 8943 6880 or e-mail: enquiry@npl.co.uk.

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