By counting how many markings short of a complete inch a given length is, a 1/32 tape measure can be read. For instance, 8 markings on a 1/32 tape measure translate to 8/32 inches, which can be further lowered to 1/4 inch.
A 1/32 tape measure has the benefit of being able to provide far more accurate measurements. The drawback is that it can be more difficult to comprehend and necessitates a fundamental comprehension of how to simplify fractions; for instance, recognising that 16/32 is equal to 8/16, 4/8, and eventually 1/2.
When measuring stairs, a 1/32 tape measure is helpful because if the risers are inaccurate by even a fraction of an inch, the inaccuracy adds up across the number of steps and causes the staircase to be either too tall or too short.