How to Find the Volume of a Piece of Paper

By Ariel Balter
A sheet of paper is thin, but they can add up.
Christopher Robbins/Digital Vision/Getty Images

The volume (V) of a rectangular solid is equal to the product of the length (L), width (W) and height (H): V = L*W*H. You can measure the length and width of a piece of paper with a ruler, but without a special tool it would be hard to measure the height, or thickness. But you can do this using a little trick: Stack up many pieces and measure the entire stack, then divide this measurement by how many pieces are in the stack. If you only have a few sheets, cut them into small pieces and stack the pieces.

Stack and Measure Method

Step 1

Mark and cut out a rectangular sheet of paper.

Step 2

Stack up 100 sheets of the same paper. If you only have a few sheets, cut them evenly into at least 100 pieces. Then clamp 100 of the pieces tightly together with a clothespin or binder clip. Make sure that all the edges line up evenly on one side of the stack.

Step 3

Measure the thickness of the stack.

Step 4

Divide that number by 100. If you used inches, you will need to find decimal values. For instance, if the stack was 9/64 of an inch thick, then each piece is (9/64)/100 = 0.0014 inches thick. It’s easier to work in metric. If the stack was 1.5 millimeters, then each piece is 0.015 millimeters thick.

Step 5

Measure the length and width of the piece of paper.

Step 6

Multiply the length, width and thickness to get the volume.

About the Author

Ariel Balter started out writing, editing and typesetting, changed gears for a stint in the building trades, then returned to school and earned a PhD in physics. Since that time, Balter has been a professional scientist and teacher. He has a vast area of expertise including cooking, organic gardening, green living, green building trades and many areas of science and technology.