Volume and surface area

The volume of a space figure is how much space it occupies. The volume of a container is how much it can hold; this is sometimes referred to as capacity rather than volume. The volume of space figures is often measured in cubic units.

cubic unit

Each edge of each square face of a cubic unit measures 1 unit.


The volume of the rectangular prism pictured is 3 × 3 × 4 = 36.

Below are a couple examples of space figures along with the formulas for finding their volume.

In the metric system of measurement, cubic measurements include cubic centimeters (cm3), cubic decimeters (dm3), and cubic meters (m3), among others. In the U.S. customary system of units, cubic measurements include cubic inches (in3), cubic feet (ft3), and cubic yards (yd3).

When a container is used for holding liquids, its volume may be measured in units of capacity, such as cups, quarts, liters, and so on.

See also capacity, cubic unit.