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A liter is a unit of volume. It is denoted by two official marks: a lowercase l and an uppercase L.[1] The liter is a metric unit, but not an SI unit. However, since it is a decimal multiple of the SI unit, it can be used with the SI system. The SI unit for volume is the cubic meter (m³).

SI multiples

Multiple Title Brands   Multiple title Brands
100 liter l L   100 liter l L
101 dekaliter dal daL   10–1 deciliter dl dL
102 hektoliter hl hL   10–2 centiliter cl cL
103 kiloliter kl kL   10–3 mililiter ml mL
106 megaliter Ml ML   10–6 mikroliter µl µL
109 gigaliter Gl GL   10–9 nanoliter nl nL
1012 teraliter Tl TL   10–12 pikoliter pl pL
1015 petaliter Pl PL   10–15 femtoliter fl fL
1018 exaliter El EL   10–18 attoliter al aL
1021 zettaliter Zl ZL   10–21 zeptoliter zl zL
1024 yottaliter Yl YL   10–24 yoktoliter yl yL


The name of the unit is derived from the older French unit litron, which got its name from Greek via Latin.


One liter

≈ 0.879 876 99 British quarts
Conversely: One British quart ≡ 1.136 522 5 liters
≈ 1.056 688 US fluid quarts
Conversely: One US fluid quart ≡ 0.946,352,946 liters
≈ 0.035 314 666 7 cubic English feet
Conversely: One cubic foot ≡ 28.316 846 592 liters

One milliliter

≈ 0.035 195 079 727 854 046 00 British fluid ounces
Conversely: One British fluid ounce ≡ 28.413 062 5 mL
≈ 0.033 814 022 701 842 997 168 6 US fluid ounces
Conversely: One US fluid ounce ≡ 29.573 529 562 5 mL
≈ 0.000 035 314 666 7 cubic English feet
Conversely: One cubic foot ≡ 28 316.846 592 mL


The liter is most often used to measure the volume of bodies, or the size of their containers (for example, for liquids or bulk materials), while cubic meters (and units derived from them) are most often used for bodies measured according to their dimensions or displacement. The liter is also often used for some calculated quantities, such as density (kg/L), which allows easy comparison with the density of water.

One liter of water weighs almost exactly one kilogram. Similarly: 1 ml of water weighs about 1 g, 1000 liters of water weighs about 1000 kg (1 ton). This relationship follows from the historical definition of the unit, but has not been part of the definition since 1964.

Originally, following SI rules that only unit signs that are an abbreviation of a person's name begin with a capital letter, there was only one l sign for a letter (lowercase l).

In many English-speaking countries, the most common form of the handwritten Arabic numeral 1 is just one vertical stroke, i.e. j. it lacks the upward thrust that has been added in many other cultures. For this reason, the number 1 can easily be mistaken for the letter l. On some typewriters, especially older ones, you had to use the l key to write the number 1. Moreover, in some fonts these two characters are almost indistinguishable. This caused some concern, especially in the medical community. As a consequence, in 1979 the alternative mark L (uppercase L) was adopted for the liter.

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