Difference Between Volume and Area

Volume vs Area

The terms volume and area are often mentioned by many people of different intellect; they might be mathematicians, physicists, teachers, engineers, or just ordinary people. Volume and area are very much related to each other that sometimes some people bet confused about their usage.


Volume can be simply defined as the space taken up by a mass in three dimensional (3-D). That particular mass can have any form: solid, liquid, gas or plasma. Volumes of simple objects having less complex shapes are easy to calculate using predefined arithmetic formulas. When it comes to finding out the volume of much more complex and irregular shapes, it is convenient to use integrals. In many cases, computing the volume involves three variables. For instance, volume of a cube is the multiplication of length, width and height. Therefore, the standard unit for the volume is cubic meters (m3). Additionally volumetric measurements can be expressed in liters (L), milliliters (ml) and pints.

Apart from using formulas and integrals, the volume of solid objects with irregular shapes can be determined using the liquid displacement method.


Area is the surface size of a two dimensional object. For solid objects such as cones, spheres, cylinders area means the surface area that covers the total volume of the object. The standard unit of area is the square meters (m2). Similarly, area can be measured in square centimeters (cm2), square millimeters (mm2), square feet (ft2) etc. In many cases, computing area requires two variables. For simple shapes such as triangles, circles and rectangles there are defined formulas to compute the area. Area of any polygon can be calculated using those formulas by dividing the polygon into simpler shapes. But calculating the surface areas of complex shapes involves multivariable calculus.

What is the difference between Volume and Area?

Volume describes the space occupied by a mass, while area describes the surface size. Calculation of volume of simple objects requires three variables; say for cube, it requires length, width and height. But, for computing the area of one side of the cube requires only two variables; length and width. Unless the surface area is the one that is discussed, area usually deals with 2-D objects, whereas volume considers 3-D objects. A basic difference is there with standard units for area and volume. Unit of area has an exponent of 2, while the unit of volume has an exponent of 3. Also, when it comes to computation of area and volume, volume calculations are much harder than that of area.

In brief:

Area vs Volume

• Volume is the space occupied by a mass, while area is the size of the exposed surface.

• Area often has the exponent 2 in its unit, whereas volume has exponent 3.

• Generally, volume deals with 3-D objects, while area aims at 2-D objects. (exception being the surface areas of solid objects)

• Volumes are difficult to compute than areas.