Standard Active Last Updated: Nov 17, 2021
ASTM E112-13(2021)

Standard Test Methods for Determining Average Grain Size

Significance and Use

4.1 These test methods cover procedures for estimating and rules for expressing the average grain size of all metals consisting entirely, or principally, of a single phase. The grain size of specimens with two phases, or a phase and a constituent, can be measured using a combination of two methods, a measurement of the volume fraction of the phase and an intercept or planimetric count (see Section 17). The test methods may also be used for any structures having appearances similar to those of the metallic structures shown in the comparison charts. The three basic procedures for grain size estimation are:

4.1.1 Comparison Procedure—The comparison procedure does not require counting of either grains, intercepts, or intersections but, as the name suggests, involves comparison of the grain structure to a series of graded images, either in the form of a wall chart, clear plastic overlays, or an eyepiece reticle. There appears to be a general bias in that comparison grain size ratings claim that the grain size is somewhat coarser (1/2 to 1 G number lower) than it actually is (see X1.3.5). Repeatability and reproducibility of comparison chart ratings are generally ±1 grain size number.

4.1.2 Planimetric Procedure—The planimetric method involves an actual count of the number of grains within a known area. The number of grains per unit area, NA , is used to determine the ASTM grain size number, G. The precision of the method is a function of the number of grains counted. A precision of ±0.25 grain size units can be attained with a reasonable amount of effort. Results are free of bias and repeatability and reproducibility are less than ±0.5 grain size units. An accurate count does require marking off of the grains as they are counted.

4.1.3 Intercept Procedure—The intercept method involves an actual count of the number of grains intercepted by a test line or the number of grain boundary intersections with a test line, per unit length of test line, used to calculate the mean lineal intercept length, . is used to determine the ASTM grain size number, G. The precision of the method is a function of the number of intercepts or intersections counted. A precision of better than ±0.25 grain size units can be attained with a reasonable amount of effort. Results are free of bias; repeatability and reproducibility are less than ±0.5 grain size units. Because an accurate count can be made without need of marking off intercepts or intersections, the intercept method is faster than the planimetric method for the same level of precision.

4.2 For specimens consisting of equiaxed grains, the method of comparing the specimen with a standard chart is most convenient and is sufficiently accurate for most commercial purposes. For higher degrees of accuracy in determining average grain size, the intercept or planimetric procedures may be used. The intercept procedure is particularly useful for structures consisting of elongated grains (see Section 16).

4.3 In case of dispute, the planimetric procedure shall be the referee procedure in all cases.

4.4 No attempt should be made to estimate the average grain size of heavily cold-worked material. Partially recrystallized wrought alloys and lightly to moderately cold-worked material may be considered as consisting of non-equiaxed grains, if a grain size measurement is necessary.

4.5 Individual grain measurements should not be made based on the standard comparison charts. These charts were constructed to reflect the typical log-normal distribution of grain sizes that result when a plane is passed through a three-dimensional array of grains. Because they show a distribution of grain dimensions, ranging from very small to very large, depending on the relationship of the planar section and the three-dimensional array of grains, the charts are not applicable to measurement of individual grains.


1.1 These test methods cover the measurement of average grain size and include the comparison procedure, the planimetric (or Jeffries) procedure, and the intercept procedures. These test methods may also be applied to nonmetallic materials with structures having appearances similar to those of the metallic structures shown in the comparison charts. These test methods apply chiefly to single phase grain structures but they can be applied to determine the average size of a particular type of grain structure in a multiphase or multiconstituent specimen.

1.2 These test methods are used to determine the average grain size of specimens with a unimodal distribution of grain areas, diameters, or intercept lengths. These distributions are approximately log normal. These test methods do not cover methods to characterize the nature of these distributions. Characterization of grain size in specimens with duplex grain size distributions is described in Test Methods E1181. Measurement of individual, very coarse grains in a fine grained matrix is described in Test Methods E930.

1.3 These test methods deal only with determination of planar grain size, that is, characterization of the two-dimensional grain sections revealed by the sectioning plane. Determination of spatial grain size, that is, measurement of the size of the three-dimensional grains in the specimen volume, is beyond the scope of these test methods.

1.4 These test methods describe techniques performed manually using either a standard series of graded chart images for the comparison method or simple templates for the manual counting methods. Utilization of semi-automatic digitizing tablets or automatic image analyzers to measure grain size is described in Test Methods E1382.

1.5 These test methods deal only with the recommended test methods and nothing in them should be construed as defining or establishing limits of acceptability or fitness of purpose of the materials tested.

1.6 The measured values are stated in SI units, which are regarded as standard. Equivalent inch-pound values, when listed, are in parentheses and may be approximate.

1.7 This standard does not purport to address all of the safety concerns, if any, associated with its use. It is the responsibility of the user of this standard to establish appropriate safety, health, and environmental practices and determine the applicability of regulatory limitations prior to use.

1.8 The paragraphs appear in the following order:





Referenced Documents




Significance and Use


Generalities of Application




Test Specimens




Preparation of Photomicrographs


Comparison Procedure


Planimetric (Jeffries) Procedure


General Intercept Procedures


Heyn Linear Intercept Procedure


Circular Intercept Procedures


Hilliard Single-Circle Procedure


Abrams Three-Circle Procedure


Statistical Analysis


Specimens with Non-equiaxed Grain Shapes


Specimens Containing Two or More Phases or Constituents




Precision and Bias






 Basis of ASTM Grain Size Numbers

Annex A1

 Equations for Conversions Among Various Grain Size Measurements

Annex A2

 Austenite Grain Size, Ferritic and Austenitic Steels

Annex A3

 Fracture Grain Size Method

Annex A4

 Requirements for Wrought Copper and Copper-Base Alloys

Annex A5

 Application to Special Situations

Annex A6



 Results of Interlaboratory Grain Size Determinations

Appendix X1

 Referenced Adjuncts

Appendix X2

1.9 This international standard was developed in accordance with internationally recognized principles on standardization established in the Decision on Principles for the Development of International Standards, Guides and Recommendations issued by the World Trade Organization Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Committee.

Contact Sales
Reprints and Permissions
Reprints and copyright permissions can be requested through the
Copyright Clearance Center
Book of Standards Volume: 03.01
Developed by Subcommittee: E04.08
Pages: 28
DOI: 10.1520/E0112-13R21
ICS Code: 77.040.01