What is a Protractor – Definition with Examples
Updated on January 11, 2024
A protractor is more than just a semicircular piece of plastic, it’s a gateway into the fascinating world of geometry. Here at Brighterly, we believe in cultivating an early passion for mathematics and geometry, and what better tool to start with than the humble protractor. Providing the means to measure and construct angles accurately, the protractor is an instrumental tool in the toolbox of mathematicians, architects, engineers, and many others. In this article, we delve into the very essence of what a protractor is, how to use and read it, and how it becomes a crucial pillar in understanding the basics of geometry.
What is a Protractor?
A protractor is a simple yet powerful mathematical tool used widely in geometry to measure and construct angles. This semicircular instrument is transparent, made of glass, plastic, or sometimes even metal, allowing users to view the lines underneath. A protractor is typically marked with degrees from 0° to 180°, helping children comprehend the concept of angles, a fundamental geometry topic. Understanding angles is essential as it lays the foundation for many complex mathematical concepts.
Often, the first encounter with a protractor for students can seem intimidating, but once they grasp the basics, the protractor becomes an indispensable tool. Besides, understanding how to use a protractor encourages critical thinking and problemsolving skills – vital capabilities for the future.
How to Use a Protractor?
Learning how to use a protractor can be an exciting journey. Begin by identifying the two sets of measurements on the protractor. The outer scale is marked from 0° to 180° clockwise, while the inner scale runs counterclockwise.
First, place the center point of the protractor at the vertex of the angle to be measured. Ensure one line of the angle aligns with the zero mark on the protractor’s scale. The other line will cross the protractor at the degree measure of the angle.
How to Read a Protractor?
Reading a protractor can be a funfilled exercise with some practice. If the angle opens to the right side, read the bottom scale of the protractor from 0° to 180°. If the angle opens to the left side, use the top scale from 0° to 180°. The number that the second line of the angle crosses on the scale represents the angle’s degree measure.
Measuring Angles with a Protractor
When it comes to measuring angles with a protractor, ensure to align one arm of the angle with the protractor’s zero line. The point where the second arm intersects the protractor’s scale gives you the measurement of the angle.
How to Draw Angles With a Protractor?
Drawing angles with a protractor can be a simple and enjoyable process. To draw an angle of a specific degree, first draw a baseline with a ruler. Position the protractor’s midpoint on one end of the baseline, and ensure the baseline aligns with the protractor’s zerodegree line. Then, mark a point on the protractor’s edge that corresponds to the desired angle. Finally, draw a line from the protractor’s center to the marked point to complete the angle.
360° Protractor
A 360° protractor, also known as a full circle protractor, is a handy tool in geometry. It allows measurements of angles in a full rotation, providing a complete 360° view. This type of protractor is beneficial when dealing with problems involving rotations and circular motion.
How to Use a Protractor to Measure an Angle
To use a protractor to measure an angle, position the midpoint of the protractor over the vertex of the angle. Align the zero line with one side of the angle. Look at the point where the second side crosses the protractor scale – that’s your angle’s measure.
How to Use a Protractor to Draw an Angle
To use a protractor to draw an angle, begin by drawing a base line. Place the center of the protractor on one end of the line, ensuring that the zero line of the protractor aligns with the base line. Mark a dot at the desired degree on the protractor, then draw a second line connecting the center point and the dot.
How To Measure an Angle Using a Protractor
When measuring an angle using a protractor, remember to first align the protractor’s midpoint with the vertex of the angle and the zero line with one side of the angle. The degree at which the second arm of the angle intersects the protractor gives you the angle’s measurement.
How Do You Draw an Angle Using a Protractor
To draw an angle using a protractor, start by drawing a baseline. Position the center of the protractor on one end of the baseline. Make sure the baseline aligns with the zerodegree line of the protractor. Then, mark a point corresponding to the desired angle degree on the protractor’s edge. Finally, draw a line connecting the protractor’s midpoint to the marked point.
Solved Examples on Protractor
Let’s consider some solved examples on protractor to better understand its use.
Example 1: Measuring an Angle Suppose you have an angle with one line at the 0° mark and the other line at the 60° mark on the protractor’s scale. The angle measurement is 60°.
Example 2: Drawing an Angle Suppose you want to draw a 30° angle. Place the protractor’s center point at the end of the line, and the 0° line on the baseline. Mark the 30° point on the scale, then draw a line from the center of the protractor to the 30° mark.
Practice Questions on Protractor
Here are some practice questions on protractor:

Measure the following angles with a protractor: a. An angle that opens to the right and crosses at the 50° mark. b. An angle that opens to the left and intersects at the 120° mark.

Draw the following angles using a protractor: a. A 45° angle. b. A 90° angle.
Conclusion
The protractor, often seen as a humble semicircular tool, is, in fact, a cornerstone of geometry and a crucial part of our mathematical world. From architects designing spectacular structures to children learning the basics of geometry in a classroom, the protractor has an incredible range of uses.
In this journey with Brighterly, we hope to have illuminated the role of the protractor, making it a bit less mysterious and a lot more fascinating. As we have discovered, a protractor is not just for measuring and drawing angles; it’s a tool for building essential skills like problemsolving, logical reasoning, and spatial visualization.
Remember, every great mind, every breakthrough idea, and every astounding discovery began with learning the basics. And a protractor is undoubtedly a significant part of those basics. So, keep exploring, keep learning, and most importantly, keep enjoying the fascinating world of geometry with Brighterly.
Frequently Asked Questions on Protractor
Here are some frequently asked questions on protractor along with their comprehensive answers:
What is the use of a protractor?
A protractor is a versatile tool in mathematics, specifically in geometry. Its primary function is to measure and draw angles. Whether you’re measuring acute, obtuse, or reflex angles, a protractor offers the precise degree measurement, enabling you to tackle various geometric problems.
How can I measure an angle with a protractor?
To measure an angle with a protractor, place the protractor’s center point on the vertex of the angle. Ensure one side of the angle aligns with the 0° mark on the protractor’s scale. The number at which the second side of the angle intersects the scale is the measure of the angle in degrees.
How can I draw an angle using a protractor?
Drawing an angle using a protractor involves a few simple steps. First, draw a baseline. Position the midpoint of the protractor on one end of the line, ensuring that the zerodegree line of the protractor aligns with the baseline. Then, mark a point that corresponds to the desired angle degree on the protractor’s edge. Finally, draw a line from the protractor’s midpoint to the marked point. This line forms the angle with the baseline.
What is a 360° protractor and how is it different from a regular protractor?
A 360° protractor is a type of protractor that allows you to measure fullcircle angles. Unlike the typical halfcircle protractor that measures angles up to 180 degrees, the 360° protractor can measure angles from 0° to 360°. This is particularly useful when working with problems involving rotations and complete circular motion.