Measuring the Area of a Rectangle: Formula & Examples

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  • 0:06 Rectangles
  • 0:36 Area Formula
  • 1:42 Square Footage
  • 2:25 Application
  • 3:53 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Yuanxin (Amy) Yang Alcocer

Amy has a master's degree in secondary education and has taught math at a public charter high school.

Look around you, and you see rectangles all over the place. And if you see paint, carpet, or anything that covers a rectangular area, you can be sure that someone has measured the area of the rectangle. Watch this video lesson to learn more.


Rectangles are important. Just look around, and what do you see? Tons of rectangles everywhere! If you're looking at a computer screen, what do you see right now? Don't you see a rectangle? How can you be sure that you're looking at a rectangle? Well, by definition, a rectangle is a four-sided shape whose angles are all right angles measuring 90 degrees. So, if you see a shape with four sides and four right angles, then you can be sure that you're looking at a rectangle.

Area Formula

One important calculation you can do with rectangles is to find their area. Why is this important? Is the room you are in rectangular in shape? What about the wall you're staring at? Is that rectangular in shape? If so, what do you see covering the floor or the wall? Do you see paint or carpet or tile of some sort? If you do, then the formula for the rectangle's area was used to figure out how much paint and floor covering was needed.

The formula they used is a simple one. It is area = length * width. Yes, the formula is simply the multiplication of one side with its neighboring side. It doesn't matter which side you pick to be the length. Whatever side you pick, the side next to it will be the width. The remaining two sides will have the same measurement as the side they are opposite to. Typically, in a rectangle, one side is longer than the other. If the longer side is your length, then make your shorter side your width. You can also choose your longer side to be the width, which will make your shorter side the length.

Finding Square Footage

Let's see how we can put this formula into use. We'll start with a plain rectangle just to see how the numbers work with each other. This particular rectangle we are looking at below has a length of 5 feet and a width of 3 feet. So, what do you think we need to do with these two numbers in order to find our area? That's right - we are going to multiply the two numbers together. When we do that, we get 5 feet * 3 feet = 15 feet squared. Notice how my answer has our measuring unit squared. That is because I have multiplied two numbers that have units. Just remember, your answer for area will always end with your measuring unit squared.

The area of this rectangle is 15 feet squared.
image of 3 x 5 rectangle

Real World Application

Now that we know how to use the formula with a plain rectangle, let's see what's it's like to use it in a real-world project. Pretend that you are the chief carpet layer for a carpet company. You just received a job that requires you to find out how much carpet is needed to get a job done. The only thing you are given is a measuring tape. What do you do?

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