The Secret to All Areas

Math with Bad Drawings

(Except Area 51, which I Am Not Authorized to Divulge)

or, The World Through Rectangular Glasses

Memorizing area formulas is a rite of passage for adolescents. It’s fun and useful—you know, like acne.


The logic is this: A handful of geometric figures keep recurring throughout our world. Once you know how to spot them, they’re everywhere, like the Wilhelm Scream. It’s useful to determine the sizes of these shapes effortlessly, via formulas. Hence, you do worksheet after worksheet, spilling graphite and tears upon them, until you know the formulas cold—never mind whether you understand them.

There’s a better way. These formulas need not remain mysterious. In fact, they’re all just simple variations on the first and simplest.

The elegant truth: when it comes to area, everything is rectangles.

And yes, I mean everything.

So let’s begin. With rectangles, finding area is a simple matter of multiplication. In each…

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