Graphing in Three Dimensions: Method & Formula

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next:

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:00 Two-Dimensional Graphs
  • 0:53 A Three-Dimensional World
  • 1:47 The Z-Axis
  • 2:30 An Example
  • 3:41 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Speed Speed
Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kevin Newton

Kevin has edited encyclopedias, taught middle and high school history, and has a master's degree in Islamic law.

Graphing in three dimensions can be a tough thing to visualize, but once you get that part down it makes geometry much more useful. In this lesson, we learn how to graph using the z-axis as well.

Two-Dimensional Graphs

Chances are you're pretty familiar with graphing something on a coordinate plane. You take the first number as the x-coordinate, which refers to the horizontal distance from the origin, while the second number is the y-coordinate, which refers to the vertical distance from the origin. However, we don't live in a two dimensional world. If you want to only use math to calculate movement across a flat plane, then there, you've got the tools you need.

On the other hand, if you want to calculate location in three dimensions, whether out of personal interest or the fact that your geometry teacher tells you that it will be on the next exam, then this lesson is exactly what you're looking for. First, we'll make sure that you fully conceptualize the need for a three-dimensional plane. From there we'll learn about the new points we have, how to graph the points, and then look at an example of this in action.

A Three-Dimemsional World

But wait, why do we care about three-dimensional motion? Aren't two dimensions enough? Well, like I said earlier, we live in a three dimensional world. In fact, there are even some mathematicians who do work in a world with even more dimensions than that, dealing with an object's location through time as a dimension.

However, don't worry about that. Look up from this lesson. Go ahead, look. Chances are you're in a room. Now imagine that there was a ball floating by itself somewhere in the room. How would you describe its location so that you can describe exactly where it was when people start to assume you've gone crazy for seeing a floating ball. More likely, imagine that you're describing the location of a bunch of different planes over an airport. You'd want to make sure that you know their coordinates as well as their altitude, right? That's why we have to know how to use three-dimensional graphs.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account