The litre (spelled litre in Commonwealth English [1] and liter in American English) is a unit of volume.


There are two official symbols, the Latin letter el in both cases: l and L. The litre is not an SI unit but is accepted for use with the SI. The SI unit of volume is the cubic metre (m³).

Definitions and equivalents[]

A litre is defined as a special name for a cubic decimetre (1 L = 1 dm³).

  • 1 L = 1000 cm³ (exactly)
  • 1000 L = 1 m³ (exactly)

SI prefixes applied to the litre[]

The litre may be used with some SI prefixes.

Multiple Name Symbols Multiple Name Symbols
100 litre l L      
101 decalitre dal daL 10−1 decilitre dl dL
102 hectolitre hl hL 10−2 centilitre cl cL
103 kilolitre kl kL 10−3 millilitre ml mL
106 megalitre Ml ML 10−6 microlitre µl µL
109 gigalitre Gl GL 10−9 nanolitre nl nL
1012 teralitre Tl TL 10−12 picolitre pl pL
1015 petalitre Pl PL 10−15 femtolitre fl fL
1018 exalitre El EL 10−18 attolitre al aL

Other common metric equivalencies[]

  • 1 µL (microlitre) = 1 mm³ (cubic millimetre)
  • 1 mL (millilitre) = 1 cm³ (cubic centimetre)


One litre

≈ 0.87987699 Imperial quart
Inverse: One Imperial quart ≡ 1.1365225 litres
≈ 1.056688 US fluid quarts
Inverse: One US fluid quart ≡ 0.946352946 litres
≈ 0.0353146667 cubic foot
Inverse: One cubic foot ≡ 28.316846592 litres


Litres are most commonly used for items measured by the capacity or size of their container (such as fluids and berries), whereas cubic metres (and derived units) are most commonly used for items measured either by their dimensions or their displacements. The litre is often also used in some calculated measurements, such as density (kg/L), allowing an easy comparison with the density of water.

One litre of water has a mass of almost exactly one kilogram. Similarly: 1 mL of water has about 1 g of mass; 1000 litres of water has about 1000 kg (1 tonne) of mass. This relationship is due to the history of the unit, but since 1964 it has not been part of the definition.


Originally, the only symbol for the litre was l (lowercase letter l), following the SI convention that only those unit symbols that abbreviate the name of a person start with a capital letter.

See also [2]


See [3]

See also[]

External links[]

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