How to Find the Area of a Parallelogram

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A parallelogram is a four-sided figure with the opposite sides parallel to one another. A parallelogram containing a right angle is a rectangle; if its four sides are equal in length, the rectangle is a square. Finding the area of a rectangle or square is straightforward. For parallelograms with no right angle, such as a diamond-shaped quadrilateral, calculating area is a bit more involved.

Square or Rectangle

    Measure the length of one side of the figure.

    Measure the length of an adjacent side.

    Multiply the two measurements to obtain the area.

Parallelogram With No Right Angle

    Measure the length of one side of the parallelogram.

    Measure the height of the parallelogram, which is the shortest distance from the side you measured to the opposite side. The height forms a right angle with the measured side.

    Multiply the two measurements to obtain the area.


    • The general formula for the area (A) of a parallelogram is base (b) times height (h), or A=b x h. For a square or rectangle, the base and the height are adjacent sides. For other parallelograms, an arbitrary side is the base and the height is the shortest distance between the base and its opposite side.


    • Express your units for area as the square of your linear measurement. For example, if a parallelogram has a base of 4 inches and a height of 3 inches, the area is 3 x 4 = 12 square inches.


About the Author

David Sarokin is an ecologist and noted environmentalist with more than 30 years experience in environmental policy. He created the nation's Right-to-Know program for chemical pollutants, and is the author of Missed Information (MIT Press, 2016), detailing how our social systems like health care, finance and government can be improved with better quality information.

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