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Created by: Team Physics - Examples.com, Last Updated: April 25, 2024


What is Volume?

Volume is the amount of three-dimensional space occupied by an object, substance, or enclosed within a container. Commonly used in various fields such as science, engineering, and cooking. Volume is typically measured in cubic units like cubic meters (m³), liters (L), or cubic feet, depending on the context.

Unit of Volume

The volume of a solid object is measured in cubic units. This means that if you measure the dimensions (like length, width, and height) of an object in meters, then the volume will be expressed in cubic meters. Cubic meters are the standard unit of volume in the International System of Units (SI), which is used worldwide.

Volume of 3D Shapes

1. Cube

  • Shape Description: A cube is a solid with six equal square faces.
  • Volume Formula: Volume = side length × side length × side length
  • Example: If a cube has a side length of 3 meters, the volume would be 3 m×3 m×3 m = 27 m³. This could be a large storage box, where knowing the volume helps determine how much it can hold.

2. Rectangular Prism

  • Shape Description: A rectangular prism is a box-shaped figure with six rectangular faces, where opposite faces are equal.
  • Volume Formula: Volume = length × width × height
  • Example: For a rectangular tank measuring 10 meters in length, 4 meters in width, and 2 meters in height, the volume is 10 m×4 m×2 m = 80 m³. This could represent the capacity of a water tank.

3. Sphere

  • Shape Description: A sphere is a perfectly round geometrical object in three-dimensional space, like a ball.
  • Volume Formula: Volume = 4/3​πradius³
  • Example: If a spherical balloon has a radius of 2 meters, its volume is 4/3 × π × 23 ≈ 33.51 m³. This indicates the amount of air needed to inflate the balloon.

4. Cylinder

  • Shape Description: A cylinder has two parallel circular bases connected by a curved surface at a right angle to the bases.
  • Volume Formula: Volume = π × radius² × height
  • Example: A cylindrical can with a radius of 1 meter and a height of 3 meters has a volume of π × 1² × 3 ≈ 9.42 m³, useful for calculating storage capacity.

5. Cone

  • Shape Description: A cone has a circular base connected by a curved surface to a single vertex.
  • Volume Formula: Volume = 1/3 π radius² height
  • Example: A cone-shaped party hat with a radius of 0.5 meters and a height of 2 meters has a volume of 1/3 × π × 0.52 × 2 ≈ 0.52 m³. This helps determine the amount of material needed to make the hat.

6. Pyramid

  • Shape Description: A pyramid has a polygon base and triangular sides that converge to a single point (the apex).
  • Volume Formula: Volume = 1/3 × base area × height
  • Example: If a pyramid has a square base with a side length of 4 meters and a height of 9 meters, assuming the area of the base is 4 m×4 m=16 m², the volume is 1/3 × 16 m² × 9 m = 48 m³. This can apply to architectural projects where understanding volume is critical for stability and material estimates.

List of Volume Formulas

ShapeDescriptionVolume FormulaExample
CubeA solid with six equal square faces.V = side³Side = 3m, V=27 m³
Rectangular PrismA box shape with six rectangular faces.V = length × width × heightLength = 10m, Width = 4m, Height = 2m, V=80 m³
SphereA perfectly round 3D object.V = 4/3​πradius³Radius = 2m, V≈33.51 m³
CylinderA shape with two parallel circular bases.V = πradius² × heightRadius = 1m, Height = 3m, V≈9.42 m³
ConeA shape with a circular base tapering to a point.V = 1/3​πradius² × heightRadius = 0.5m, Height = 2m, V≈0.52 m³
PyramidA solid with a polygon base and triangular sides.V = 1/3 × base area × heightBase side = 4m, Height = 9m, V=48 m³

How to Calculate the Volume?

Steps to Calculate Volume:

  1. Identify Necessary Parameters: First, find all the measurements you need for the formula, like radius (r), height (h), diameter, or slant height.
  2. Check Units: Make sure all the measurements are in the same units (meters, centimeters, etc.).
  3. Use the Formula: Put the measurements into the formula for the shape you’re calculating.
  4. Write the Answer in Cubic Units: The result should be in cubic units, like cubic meters (m³).

Example: Calculating the Volume of a Cylinder

Let’s say you want to find the volume of a right circular cylinder with a radius of 15 meters and a height of 3 meters. Use π = 3.14 for this calculation.


  • Radius of the cylinder (r): 15 meters
  • Height of the cylinder (h): 3 meters
  • Volume formula for a cylinder: V=πr²h
  • Substitute the values: V=3.14×(15²)×3
    Calculate 15²=225, so V=3.14×225×3=2119.5 m³
  • Result: The volume of the cylinder is 2119.5 cubic meters.

Units of Volume

Cubic Meter (m³)Standard SI unit for volume, used in scientific and construction contexts.1 m³ = 1,000 liters
Liter (L)Commonly used for liquids in everyday contexts.1 L = 1,000 milliliters (mL)
Milliliter (mL)Often used in cooking and in laboratories.1 mL = 0.001 liters
Cubic Centimeter (cm³)Common in medical and automotive applications.1 cm³ = 1 mL
Gallon (US)Used in the United States for measuring larger quantities of liquids.1 US gallon ≈ 3.785 liters
Quart (US)Smaller than a gallon, used for various liquid measurements in the US.1 quart = 0.25 US gallons
Pint (US)Smaller unit used in cooking and some industries in the US.1 pint = 0.5 quarts
Cubic Inch (in³)Used in manufacturing and shipping in the United States.1 in³ ≈ 16.387 cm³
Cubic Foot (ft³)Used in shipping, refrigeration, and architectural measurements.1 ft³ ≈ 28.317 liters
Barrel (oil)Specifically for measuring volumes of crude oil.1 barrel ≈ 159 liters

This table helps provide a clear and quick reference for converting and understanding different


What is the SI of volume in physics?

The SI unit of volume is the cubic meter (m³). Smaller volumes may be measured in cubic centimeters (cm³) or liters.

What is the basic formula for volume in physics?

Volume is typically calculated by the formula: Length × Width × Height for rectangular prisms. Different shapes have specific formulas based on their geometry.

What is the formula for mass in physics volume?

Mass is not directly calculated from volume. However, mass can be determined by multiplying volume by density: Mass = Density × Volume.

What are the 3 ways to find volume?

Three common methods are: measuring dimensions and applying geometric formulas, displacement of water for irregular objects, and calculation through mass and density.

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