how do you use a dial indicator?

Hi,
I just bought my lathe today! Not a great deal, but I don't think I'll regret it either.
Anyway, I had brought along an indicator. I'm still a novice
machinist by most any standard, and I confess I don't trust that I know how to use one.
I was looking for a general sloping of wear towards the headstock. To check, I laid the indicator on the carriage and wheeled it along. The indicator would sometimes behave erratically, and would differ in reading from direction to direction. From the couple "clean" passes, it looks like there may be .002" wear from end to end; and since I'm rarely turning longer pieces, this should be tolerable?
But that said, I just finished reading a lathe buyer's guide that suggested the following: "Most first time buyers are likely to introduce more error into an indicator reading than they are able to read with any certainty."
I suspect that he's right :-) So-- how do I not introduce the errors I was so clearly introducing? One thought is to angle the need away from teh direction I'm pulling the indicator so that it doesn't snag, even though of course an error of .001" is in fact an error of less than .001" because of the angle. Other ideas, though?
thanks! -Bernard Arnest
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How about turning a piece of round stock and measuring the dia. close to the chuck and then at the end of the part?
Lewis.
******
Bernard Arnest wrote:

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