Area of a Shape
Updated on January 7, 2024
Welcome to the wonderfully wide world of geometry with Brighterly, your trusted companion on this enlightening journey through math. Today, we’re going to talk about a fundamental concept that’s at the heart of geometry – the area of a shape. This is the very concept that helps us understand how much space a flat object occupies. Whether you’re painting a wall, laying out a garden, or designing a spaceship, the idea of area is central to your plans. It’s an essential part of the mathematics we use every day. We’ll explore the concept of area for various 2D and 3D shapes, delve into formulas that help us calculate it, and answer some frequently asked questions to clarify common doubts. Let’s embark on this mathematical journey together!
What is Area?
The area is a fundamental concept in mathematics, particularly in the field of geometry. It’s a measurement that helps us understand the size of a twodimensional (2D) surface. Imagine you have a flat piece of paper shaped like a square. The area would be how much space that paper occupies on a flat surface. It’s the same as the amount of paint you would need to completely cover that paper with a layer of paint. To measure the area, we use square units. For example, if we were measuring the area in inches, we’d use square inches. It’s as if you were tiling a floor with tiny 1inch by 1inch tiles, and counting how many tiles you need to cover the entire floor. The same concept applies to other shapes too, not just squares. That’s why area is often described as the “floor space” or “carpeting” of a shape.
Area of Basic Geometric Shapes
Now that we understand the basic concept of area, let’s dive deeper into the formulas used to calculate the area of some basic geometric shapes. These simple shapes form the foundation for understanding more complex figures.
Rectangle
A rectangle is a foursided shape with all angles equal to 90 degrees. To calculate the area of a rectangle, we multiply its length by its width. If you think about it, it makes perfect sense. If we have a rectangle that is 5 units long and 4 units wide, we could fit 20 square units inside it, which is 5 multiplied by 4.
Square
A square is like a special rectangle where all the sides have the same length. Thus, to find the area of a square, we simply multiply the length of one side by itself, which is often written as side squared.
Parallelogram
A parallelogram is a foursided shape where the opposite sides are equal in length and are parallel to each other. The formula for the area of a parallelogram is base times height, where the base can be any side and the height is the perpendicular distance from the base to the opposite side.
Triangle
A triangle is a threesided shape. Despite its different shape, the formula for the area of a triangle is remarkably similar to that of a rectangle. It’s half the product of the base and the height, symbolizing that a triangle can be viewed as half of a parallelogram.
Circle
A circle is a unique shape where all points are equidistant from a central point. The area of a circle is calculated using the formula π (Pi) times the radius squared. The radius is the distance from the center of the circle to its edge.
How Do We Apply Formula to Find the Area of a Shape?
Applying these formulas is a straightforward process. First, we need to accurately measure the required dimensions of the shape such as length, width, radius, and so on. These measurements are then plugged into the formula corresponding to the shape. The resulting value, which should always be stated in square units, is the area of the shape.
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Area of Combination of Shapes
In real life, we often encounter shapes that are a combination of these basic shapes. For example, a house’s floor plan might include a large rectangle for the main living area, a smaller rectangle for the bathroom, and a triangle for a pitched roof. To calculate the total area of such a complex shape, we break it down into its basic shapes, calculate the area of each shape using its corresponding formula, and then add up all these areas.
What are 2D shapes?
2D shapes, or twodimensional shapes, are flat shapes that have width and height but no depth. These include simple shapes like circles, triangles, and rectangles, as well as more complex shapes such as hexagons, octagons, and even intricate polygons. The key point is that these shapes are flat, existing on a single plane.
Area of 2D Shapes Formula
The formulas for finding the area of these 2D shapes vary depending on the shape. For complex 2D shapes, we often break them down into simpler, more manageable shapes. We then find the area of each of these simpler shapes using their individual area formulas, and add up these areas to find the total area of the complex shape.
What are 3D shapes?
3D shapes, or threedimensional shapes, have depth in addition to width and height. This added dimension makes them solid rather than flat. Examples of 3D shapes include cubes, cylinders, cones, and spheres. You encounter 3D shapes all the time in the real world—they’re the shapes of most objects you see and use every day.
Area of 3D Shapes Formula
When we talk about 3D shapes, instead of simply talking about area, we usually refer to surface area. The surface area is the total area of all surfaces or faces of a 3D object. Each type of 3D shape has its own formula for calculating surface area. As with 2D shapes, more complex 3D shapes are often broken down into simpler shapes for the purpose of calculating surface area.
Cube
A cube is a sixfaced figure with all sides of equal length. The surface area of a cube is given by the formula 6s², where ‘s’ is the length of one side.
Rectangular Prism
A rectangular prism, also known as a cuboid, is like a stretched cube, with possibly different lengths, widths, and heights. The surface area is 2lw + 2lh + 2wh, where ‘l’ is the length, ‘w’ is the width, and ‘h’ is the height.
Sphere
A sphere is a perfectly round 3D shape (like a ball). The surface area of a sphere is 4πr², where ‘r’ is the radius of the sphere.
Cylinder
A cylinder is a 3D shape with two circular faces (like a soup can). The surface area is 2πrh + 2πr², where ‘r’ is the radius of the circular base and ‘h’ is the height of the cylinder.
Cone
A cone is a 3D shape with a circular base and a pointed top (like an ice cream cone). The surface area is πr(r + √(r² + h²)), where ‘r’ is the radius of the base and ‘h’ is the height of the cone.
Practice Problems on Area of a Shape

Rectangle: The length of a rectangular field is 50m and the breadth is 30m. Find the area of the field.

Square: Find the area of a square playground whose side measures 25m.

Parallelogram: A parallelogram has a base of 15cm and a height of 10cm. What is its area?

Triangle: The base of a triangular park is 80m and its height is 60m. Calculate the area of the park.

Circle: The radius of a circular garden is 7m. Calculate the area of the garden. (Use π = 3.14)

Composite Shapes: A rectangular garden measuring 20m by 15m has a circular pond of radius 3m in its center. What is the area of the garden excluding the pond?

Cube: Find the surface area of a cube with side length of 4cm.

Rectangular Prism (Cuboid): A box is in the shape of a cuboid with length 5cm, width 3cm, and height 4cm. Find the surface area of the box.

Sphere: Calculate the surface area of a sphere with a radius of 6cm. (Use π = 3.14)

Cylinder: A cylindrical container has a radius of 7cm and a height of 10cm. Find the total surface area of the container. (Use π = 3.14)
Conclusion
So, what have we learned today with Brighterly? Area, a fundamental concept in geometry, is the measurement of the space enclosed by a shape. We’ve discovered how to calculate the area of basic 2D shapes like rectangles, squares, parallelograms, triangles, and circles. We’ve also learned how to break down more complex shapes into these simpler shapes to find their areas. In the world of 3D, we’ve found out that the equivalent of area is the surface area and looked at how to calculate it for regular 3D shapes like cubes, rectangular prisms, spheres, cylinders, and cones. With this knowledge, you are well equipped to look at any shape in your world and figure out its area or surface area.
Frequently Asked Questions on Area of a Shape
What does the term ‘area’ mean?
Area is a measurement that describes the amount of space a 2D shape covers. It’s often measured in square units (such as square inches, square feet, or square meters) and is used to understand the size of a flat surface.
How do I calculate the area of a shape?
The method for calculating the area depends on the shape. For basic shapes, such as squares, rectangles, triangles, and circles, you use specific formulas. For more complex shapes, you often need to break the shape down into these basic shapes, calculate the area of each, and then add them together.
Why is it important to understand area?
Understanding area is crucial in many realworld situations, from deciding how much paint you need for a wall to understanding how much land you’re buying when you purchase a property. It’s also fundamental to many areas of mathematics and engineering.
What is the difference between 2D and 3D shapes?
2D shapes have two dimensions – width and height – and are flat. Common 2D shapes include squares, circles, and triangles. 3D shapes, on the other hand, have three dimensions – width, height, and depth – and are solid. Examples of 3D shapes include cubes, spheres, and cylinders.
How is the area of 3D shapes calculated?
For 3D shapes, we typically refer to the ‘surface area’, which is the total area of all surfaces or faces of the shape. Each type of 3D shape has its own formula for calculating surface area.