A method and apparatus for measuring three-dimensional (3-D) coordinates. A 3-D object can be digitized into a mesh representation manipulable by a computer system by tracing a stylus of a probe apparatus over surfaces of the object. The probe apparatus includes an arm having a series of linkages and joints. The arm can be assembled by placing the joints of the arm in joint fixtures a desired distance and angle apart and bonding the joints to a linkage. The probe apparatus is calibrated by placing the tip of the stylus at an arbitrary point in a work volume and varying the stylus' orientation to find error values and determine calibration parameters. The sensors of the probe apparatus are zeroed by placing the probe apparatus in the only possible home position and assigning assumed starting angles to the sensors. A rotary table can be used to support the object being digitized, where the rotation of the rotary table and object during digitization is sensed and included in coordinate calculations. A mesh representation of the object is developed by a computer system by incrementally creating and displaying triangles from data points of contour lines of the mesh. A selection template allows commands to be selected by the stylus by defining a template having selection areas within the probe's work volume and associating the selection areas with specific commands to the host computer.