A level staff, also called leveling rod, is a graduated wooden or aluminum rod, the use of which permits the determination of differences in elevation. Leveling staff may be divided into two groups. It is Self reading staff and Target staff.
Reading a rod
The metric rod has major numbered graduations in meters and tenths of meters (e.g. 18 is 1.8 m - there is a tiny decimal point between the numbers). Between the major marks are either a pattern of squares and spaces in different colors or an E shape (or its mirror image) with horizontal components and spaces between of equal size. In both parts of the pattern, the squares, lines or spaces are precisely one centimeter high. When viewed through an instrument's telescope, the observer can easily visually interpolate a 1 cm mark to a quarter of its height, yielding a reading with accuracy of 2.5 mm. On this side of the rod, the colors of the markings alternate between red and black with each meter of length.
The imperial graduations are in feet (large red numbers), tenths of a foot (small black numbers) and hundredths of a foot (unnumbered marks or spaces between the marks). The tenths of a foot point is indicated by the top of the long mark with the upward sloped end. The point halfway between tenths of a foot marks is indicated by the bottom of a medium length black mark with a downward sloped end. Each mark or space is approximately 3mm, yielding roughly the same accuracy as the metric rod.