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I'm not sure if I use the word "margin" correctly.

I've two different scenarios:

  1. To describe the measurement given may not be accurate because it is measured manually.

  2. To describe there may be differences in the actual measurement of the product because they are handmade.

The sentences I have in mind are:

  1. Please allow a margin of difference of 1-2cm as they are manually measured.

  2. Please allow 1-2cm margin of error as they are manually measured.

  3. Please allow a margin of 1-2cm difference as they are manually measured.

Are the above sentences acceptable?

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  • "margin of error" is a fixed expression - it means "a tolerance". "Margin of difference" is not an expression used in English. It might be understood, but I wouldn't use it if I were you. It's odd.
    – Billy Kerr
    Mar 13, 2022 at 11:15
  • Thanks @BillyKerr If margin of error is a fixed expression, will it be understood if one says please allow a margin of 1-2cm without the use of the word error? Mar 13, 2022 at 11:31
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    I'm not sure. A margin is a space/gap at the edge of a document. Is that what you want to say?
    – Billy Kerr
    Mar 13, 2022 at 11:37
  • Thanks @BillyKerr That's not what I want to say and what you said has answered my question. Ha Mar 13, 2022 at 11:42

1 Answer 1

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If we wish to give a measurement, and also at the same time to allow some amount of variation, we often use the word 'tolerance'. If I am making rods nominally 1 metre long, and the lengths may be between 99 cm and 101 cm, I could say 'Please allow a tolerance of plus or minus 1 cm'.

tolerance noun
(VARIATION) ENGINEERING, MATHEMATICS

the amount by which a measurement or calculation might change and still be acceptable:

parts that are made to tolerances of a thousandth of an inch

Tolerance (Cambridge Dictionary)

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  • Thanks! If I may further ask, can the word "tolerance" be used generally for any types of items/scenarios in a similar context? For e.g. tables, clothes/bags, height of building, distance between two objects and to describe color variation? Mar 13, 2022 at 10:59
  • I'm sorry, if I may ask another, Is it redundant to use the word difference if tolerance is used? For example, Please allow a tolerance of 1-2cm difference. Mar 13, 2022 at 11:08
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    @OrganicHeart - Yes. "difference" is redundant. The word tolerance already implies that there will be changes/differences. No need to repeat it.
    – Billy Kerr
    Mar 13, 2022 at 11:30

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