# Area - 5'x6' which is the width and which is the length?

1. Jul 29, 2011

### GreenPrint

Hi, I realized that I don't know when someone uses this notation

5'x6'

which one are they referring to as being the width and which as being the length? What is the standard behind stating things like this for area

2. Jul 29, 2011

### Staff: Mentor

It almost never matters, and neither should it. (Unless it's a spot to park your car. )

Length x width is customary. But in physics calculations it shouldn't matter. Usually.

3. Jul 29, 2011

### GreenPrint

to confirm...

if your looking at a object say head on... like a parking space... is it more proper to call the "unit of length" to be the dimension that is parallel to your view of site or the one perpendicular, given that your looking head on to a parking space that is a perfect rectangle? You could change what you call width and what you call length depending on your point of view?

like if i then looked at the parking space say from the side what I once called a length I would now call a width?

4. Jul 29, 2011

### Staff: Mentor

There is plenty of room for confusion. Then throw into the mix breadth and depth and along with length and width you can see why it's advisable to place no reliance on "convention". :yuck: :yuck: What is your convention may not be mine.

If you rely on "width" and "length" you could end up with your newly-constructed house being rotated by 90o to how you believed you so clearly specified.

5. Jul 29, 2011

### Staff: Mentor

Depends. But would it be a good idea to change the term as you walk around the shape?

And if it was your job to lay out the white plastic tape and melt it into the asphalt to delineate a parking space, you may well use "length" for a further dimension: the perimeter.

6. Jul 29, 2011

### PeterO

I have always taken the longer one to be the length, and the shorter to be the width. I t has never mattered.

7. Jul 29, 2011

### PeterO

Also, in Australia, a common building timber used to be a 4 by 2, meaning cross section was 4" by 2". In the USA I believe that is called a 2 by 4. [We use metric now anyway]

Peter

8. Jul 29, 2011

### GreenPrint

What a incredibly flawed system =/

9. Jul 29, 2011

### HallsofIvy

What "system" are you talking about?

10. Jul 29, 2011

### GreenPrint

I guess it's not much of a system, but the ability to call whatever you want length and what ever you want width,

11. Jul 29, 2011

### PeterO

Given that we add lengths and widths to get perimeters, and multiply them to get areas, and both addition and multiplication are commutative, it is not surprising that they can be interchanged.

Also broadloom carpet comes in (amongst other sizes) 12' widths and 15' widths.

If you wanted to carpet a 12' x 15' room, you could use a 15' length of the 12' wide carpet, or a 12' length of the 15' wide carpet!!