Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Dot gov

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.


Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you've safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

SI Units - Volume

Visualize a liter as a cube that is:

  • 0.1 m on each side
  • 1 dm on each side
  • 10 cm on each side
  • 100 mm on each side
  • Visualize a liter as one square meter that is millimeter thick.

    A cubic decimeter is a cube that has a special name, the liter (L): 1 dm3 = 1 L
    A cubic decimeter contains 1000 cubic centimeters: 1 dm3 - 1000 cm3
    A cubic centimeter equals a milliliter: 1 cm3 - 1 mL

    The liter is abbreviated with the unit symbol (L). If a lowercase l is used, it can be easily confused with the number one 1.

    The next time you are at a grocery store, read the package labels on a liquid product to see how many liters (or milliliters) are in each container!

    Bodies of WaterContinentVolume of Water (estimated)
    Caspian SeaAsia78 700 km3
    Lake BaikalAsia23 600 km3
    Lake SuperiorNorth America12 100 km3
    Lake MichiganNorth America4 920 km3
    Lake HuronNorth America3 540 km3
    Lake VictoriaAfrica2 700 km3
    Lake OntarioNorth America1 700 km3
    Lake LodogaEurope908 km3
    Lake ErieNorth America484 km3
    Lake MaracaiboSouth America280 km3
    Lake TahoeNorth America151 km3
    Lake MeadNorth America35 km3
    1 ML=Olympic Swimming Pool
    235 L=Bathtub
    5 L=Blood in Human Body
    4 L=Full Human Stomach
    3.79 L=Gallon of Milk
    355 mL=Soda Pop Can
    200 mL=Juice Box
    80 mL=Empty Human Stomach
    15 mL=Eye Drop Bottle
Created August 1, 2011, Updated June 28, 2017