ISO metric screw thread

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The ISO metric screw threads are the world-wide most commonly used type of general-purpose screw thread.[1] They were one of the first international standards agreed when the International Organization for Standardization was set up in 1947.[citation needed]

The "M" designation for metric screws indicates the nominal outer diameter of the screw, in millimeters (e.g., an M6 screw has a nominal outer diameter of 6 millimeters).

Basic profile[edit]

Basic profile of all ISO metric screw threads

The design principles of ISO general-purpose metric screw threads ("M" series threads) are defined in international standard ISO 68-1.[2] Each thread is characterized by its major diameter, D (Dmaj in the diagram), and its pitch, P. ISO metric threads consist of a symmetric V-shaped thread. In the plane of the thread axis, the flanks of the V have an angle of 60° to each other. The thread depth is 0.614 × pitch. The outermost 18 and the innermost 14 of the height H of the V-shape are cut off from the profile.

The relationship between the height, H, and the pitch, P, is described by the following equation:[3]


In an external (male) thread (e.g., on a bolt), the major diameter Dmaj and the minor diameter Dmin define maximum dimensions of the thread. This means that the external thread must end flat at Dmaj, but can be rounded out below the minor diameter Dmin. Conversely, in an internal (female) thread (e.g., in a nut), the major and minor diameters are minimum dimensions, therefore the thread profile must end flat at Dmin but may be rounded out beyond Dmaj.

The minor diameter Dmin and effective pitch diameter Dp are derived from the major diameter and pitch as


A metric ISO screw thread is designated by the letter M followed by the value of the nominal diameter D (Dmaj in the diagram above) and the pitch P, both expressed in millimetres and separated by the multiplication sign, × (e.g., M8×1.25). If the pitch is the normally used "coarse" pitch listed in ISO 261 or ISO 262, it can be omitted (e.g., M8). Tolerance classes defined in ISO 965-1 can be appended to these designations, if required (e.g., M500– 6g in external threads). If, for instance, only M20 is given then it is coarse pitch thread. External threads are designated by lowercase letter, g or h. Internal threads are designated by upper case letters, G or H.

Preferred sizes[edit]

ISO 261 specifies a detailed list of preferred combinations of outer diameter D and pitch P for ISO metric screw threads.[4]

ISO 262 specifies a shorter list of thread dimensions – a subset of ISO 261.[5]

ISO 261 standard preferred threads
Nominal diameter
D (mm)
ISO 261
P (mm)
Nominal diameter
D (mm)
P (mm)
ISO 262
Coarse Fine 1st
Coarse Fine
1 0.25 0.2 16 2 1.5
1.2 0.25 0.2 18 2.5 2 or 1.5
1.4 0.3 0.2 20 2.5 2 or 1.5
1.6 0.35 0.2 22 2.5 2 or 1.5
1.8 0.35 0.2 24 3 2
2 0.4 0.25 27 3 2
2.5 0.45 0.35 30 3.5 2
3 0.5 0.35 33 3.5 2
3.5 0.6 0.35 36 4 3
4 0.7 0.5 39 4 3
5 0.8 0.5 42 4.5 3
6 1 0.75 45 4.5 3
7 1 0.75 48 5 3
8 1.25 1 or 0.75 52 5 4
10 1.5 1.25 or 1 56 5.5 4
12 1.75 1.5 or 1.25 60 5.5 4
14 2 1.5 64 6 4

The “coarse” pitch is the commonly used default pitch for a given diameter. In addition, one or two smaller “fine” pitches are defined, for use in applications where the height of the normal “coarse” pitch would be unsuitable (e.g., threads in thin-walled pipes). The terms “coarse” and “fine” have (in this context) no relation to the manufacturing quality of the thread.

In addition to coarse and fine threads, there is another division of extra fine, or “superfine” threads, with a very fine pitch thread. Superfine pitch metric threads are occasionally used in automotive components, such as suspension struts, and are commonly used in the aviation manufacturing industry. This is because extra fine threads are more resistant to coming loose from vibrations.[6]

Hex head widths[edit]

Hex head widths (width across flats, wrench size) for DIN 934 hex nuts and hex head bolts. Other (usually smaller) sizes may occur for reasons of weight and cost reduction.

Thread Hex head
width (mm)
M2 4
M2.5 5
M3 5.5
M4 7
M5 8
M6 10
M7 11
M8 13
M10 17
M12 19
M14 22
M16 24
M18 27
M20 30
M22 32
M24 36
M27 41
M30 46
M33 50
M36 55



  • ISO 68-1: ISO general purpose screw threads — Basic profile — Metric screw threads.
  • ISO 261: ISO general purpose metric screw threads — General plan.
  • ISO 262: ISO general purpose metric screw threads — Selected sizes for screws, bolts and nuts.
  • ISO 965: ISO general purpose metric screw threads — Tolerances[7]
    • ISO 965-1: Principles and basic data
    • ISO 965-2: Limits of sizes for general purpose external and internal screw threads.
    • ISO 965-3: Deviations for constructional screw threads
    • ISO 965-4: Limits of sizes for hot-dip galvanized external screw threads to mate with internal screw threads tapped with tolerance position H or G after galvanizing
    • ISO 965-5: Limits of sizes for internal screw threads to mate with hot-dip galvanized external screw threads with maximum size of tolerance position h before galvanizing


See also[edit]


  1. ^ ISO/TC/ 1 Business Plan, 2007-03-05, Version 1.3. Table 3: The market share of each screw thread, p. 7.
  2. ^ ISO 68-1:1998 ISO general purpose screw threads – Basic profile – Part 1: Metric screw threads. International Organization for Standardization. 
  3. ^ Oberg et al. 2000, p. 1706.
  4. ^ ISO 261:1998 ISO general purpose metric screw threads – General plan. International Organization for Standardization. 17 Dec 1998. 
  5. ^ ISO 262:1998 ISO general purpose metric screw threads – Selected sizes for screws, bolts and nuts. International Organization for Standardization. 17 Dec 1998. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ [1] ISO 965 in the Catalogue on the Official ISO website


External links[edit]