How to Choose Shoe Size when Shopping Online

While shoe shopping is best done in person, you can often save time and money by looking for new footwear online. Since you can’t physically touch or examine a shoe from a digital store listing, examine your own feet to get an idea of how long, wide, and arched they are. When you have a better idea of your foot’s physical size and shape, you can select a shoe size that will provide a more comfortable fit for you!


[Edit]Checking Your Foot Shape and Size

  1. Set a piece of paper on a flat surface. Take a sheet of printer paper and place it on the floor, or another flat area. Check that your foot can fit within the parameters of the paper—if not, select a larger sheet. Arrange the sheet in a safe, indoor area, where you won’t be at any risk of slipping.[1]
    Choose Shoe Size when Shopping Online Step 1.jpg
    • To provide a more sturdy measuring surface, consider laying your printer paper flush against the wall.[2]
  2. Center your foot in the middle of the paper. Remove any socks, tights, or stockings, then place your foot on top of the paper. Check that your foot isn’t trailing off the page, and that there’s enough room to trace around the perimeter.[3]
    Choose Shoe Size when Shopping Online Step 2.jpg
  3. Trace around your foot with a pencil to create an accurate sketch. Try to keep your sketch as close to the edge of your foot as possible, so the drawing can be accurate. If you find it difficult to trace around your entire foot at once, try working in sections.[4]
    Choose Shoe Size when Shopping Online Step 3.jpg
    • Consider asking a friend or family member to help you with this, as they might be able to get a more accurate sketch.
    • Depending on your foot, your tallest toe might be your big toe, or it might be the toe right next to your big toe! Double-check your sketch to ensure that it’s correct before you continue.
  4. Repeat this process to measure your opposite foot. Set a new piece of paper down on a flat surface, then place your foot in the center of the sheet. Once again, use a pencil to trace around the perimeter, keeping the sketch along the edge of your foot. When you’ve finished tracing, set the piece of paper aside along with your original sketch.
    Choose Shoe Size when Shopping Online Step 4.jpg
    • Taking 2 measurements helps you to see if your foot sizes are even or disproportionate.
  5. Measure the length of your sketches with a ruler. Center a ruler or measuring tape along the heel portion of the drawing, making sure the measuring tool is going through the center of the sketch. Measure to the top of your tallest toe, then check to see what the ruler or measuring tape says. Repeat this process with both sketches to get an accurate idea of your shoe size.[5]
    Choose Shoe Size when Shopping Online Step 5.jpg
    • It may help to jot down the exact measurements on a separate piece of paper.
  6. Determine your shoe size by comparing the measurement to an official list. Search online to find an accurate shoe size chart for your country or region. Find your foot measurements on the chart to see which size grouping you fit into. If your feet are 2 different sizes, be sure to compare both measurements against the chart.[6]
    Choose Shoe Size when Shopping Online Step 6 Version 2.jpg
  7. Check the diameter of the sketch to see if you have wide or narrow feet. Take a ruler or measuring tape and lay it horizontally across the sketch of your foot. Align the measuring tool so it spans across the 2 widest parts of your feet, which will give you a more accurate result. Jot down the exact measurement, then search online to compare your results to a width sizing chart.[7]
    Choose Shoe Size when Shopping Online Step 7.jpg
    • The widest parts of your feet are directly beneath your big toe and piggy toe.
    • The width of your feet is proportionate to the overall size. For instance, if your feet are a size 7 and wide, you could classify them as wide. However, if your feet are a size 10, then your feet would be considered to have an average width.
    • Check the charts on this site to see how wide or narrow your feet are:
  8. Dip your foot in water to see if you have high or low arches. Place your foot in a bucket of cool water, then step on a piece of cardboard. Remove your foot from the sheet, then examine the imprint that’s leftover. If you can see most of your foot, you likely have low arches. If half of your foot isn’t visible in the imprint, you have high arches.[8]
    Choose Shoe Size when Shopping Online Step 8.jpg
    • If you can see about ⅔ of your foot in the imprint, you likely have normal arches.

[Edit]Evaluating the Shoe Listing

  1. Compare your shoe size to the provided chart on the store’s site.[9] Before looking for a specific type of shoe, search the website for a sizing chart that pertains to the brand. While most charts will be similar, note that some brands might offer different sizing recommendations. Find your own shoe measurements on the chart to get an idea of what shoe size would fit you best.[10]
    Choose Shoe Size when Shopping Online Step 9.jpg
    • Many websites allow you to narrow your search parameters by shoe size. See if this option is available to you as you browse!
  2. Read the description to get an idea of the shoe’s materials.[11] Note that synthetic shoes tend to include materials like spandex, acrylic, polyester, nylon, or acetate, which indicates that the shoe is more flexible and breathable. Be cautious when shopping for shoes made out of heavier materials like leather, which may feel rigid around your feet with long-term use.[12]
    Choose Shoe Size when Shopping Online Step 10.jpg
  3. Search the listing for special sizing recommendations. Check the bottom of the listing for any manufacturer notes or guidelines that may be important to consider. Depending on the shoe model or brand, some footwear may run consistently small, narrow, or large. With this in mind, try to factor in this advice whenever you purchase a pair of shoes online.[13]
    Choose Shoe Size when Shopping Online Step 11.jpg
    • For instance, if a listing for hiking boots states that the shoes tend to run large, purchase a pair that’s a half or whole size smaller than your usual size.
  4. Check the product listing for customer reviews.[14] Aside from the company’s personal recommendations, see if other customers enjoyed wearing the shoes that they purchased. If previous customers weren’t satisfied with their purchases, look for keywords in the review that indicate why. You might be able to gain some valuable insights into how well the shoe fits, and if you need to buy it in a larger or smaller size.[15]
    Choose Shoe Size when Shopping Online Step 12.jpg
  5. Buy pointed shoes in a larger size so your feet don’t feel cramped. If you’re looking for pointed footwear, like flats, dress shoes or heels, check the size listing to see what your options are. While it may seem practical to purchase shoes in your exact size, you may be setting yourself up for cramping and pinching. Instead, purchase the shoes in a ½ or whole size larger.[16]
    Choose Shoe Size when Shopping Online Step 13.jpg
    • For instance, if you’re looking to buy a pair of pointed heels but have size 6 feet, opt for a size 6½ or 7 shoe instead.
  6. Order seasonal shoes in a larger size to accommodate for the weather. Use caution when purchasing boots, sandals, or other footwear used during especially warm or cold temperatures. Note that some feet tend to swell in hotter weather, which can make your normal shoe size seem tight and uncomfortable. In cold weather, tight shoes tend to make your feet feel colder. While keeping this in mind, order your seasonal footwear in a ½ or whole size larger than you usually would buy.[17]
    Choose Shoe Size when Shopping Online Step 14.jpg
    • For instance, if you’re a size 10, purchase a pair of winter boots in a size 10½ or 11.
  7. Go with the larger size if your feet are 2 different sizes. Unfortunately, the vast majority of online shops don’t give you an option to buy 2 differently sized shoes as a pair. If your feet are uneven, use the measurement of your longer foot when investing in a new set of shoes online.[18]
    Choose Shoe Size when Shopping Online Step 15.jpg
    • For example, if your left foot is a size 8.5 and your right foot is a size 9, purchase shoes that are a size 9.


  • If you’re buying heels or sneakers, size up a half size, since your feet may swell a bit during the day.[19]
  • Check the store’s site to see if they have a fair return policy. If you can’t return the shoes after trying them on, you may want to take your business elsewhere.[20]

[Edit]Things You’ll Need

  • Paper
  • Pencil
  • Ruler or measuring tape
  • Water
  • Cardboard sheet


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