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In general, how can you tell?

As a specific example, how would I know from looking at the following datasheet? http://www.alps.com/products/WebObjects/catalog.woa/E/HTML/Potentiometer/RotaryPotentiometers/RK09K/RK09K1130AV7.html

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The relationship between the angle of the knob and the resistance is the "taper". That datasheet says this pot's taper is "1B".

Finding information on what 1B means is a bit tricky. It's at the related information link at the top. The tapers are described at the very bottom. Here's the relevant image:

pot tapers

It's hard to read, but 1B is the straight line in the upper-left. This is an ordinary linear pot.

This is something of an industry convention. See for example Alpha's pot tapers. By convention, anything with a "B" in it is a linear taper. Anything with "A" in it is "audio" or "logarithmic".

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