The area of a polygon is the number of square units inside that polygon. Area is 2-dimensional like a carpet or an area rug. A **triangle** is a three-sided polygon. We will look at several types of triangles in this lesson.

To find the area of a triangle, multiply the base by the height, and then divide by 2. The division by 2 comes from the fact that a parallelogram can be divided into 2 triangles. For example, in the diagram to the left, the area of each triangle is equal to one-half the area of the parallelogram.

Since the area of a parallelogram is A = B * H, the area of a triangle must be one-half the area of a parallelogram. Thus, the formula for the area of a triangle is:

or

where b is the base, h is the height and **·** means multiply.

The base and height of a triangle must be perpendicular to each other. In each of the examples below, the base is a side of the triangle. However, depending on the triangle, the height may or may not be a side of the triangle. For example, in the right triangle in Example 2, the height is a side of the triangle since it is perpendicular to the base. In the triangles in Examples 1 and 3, the lateral sides are not perpendicular to the base, so a dotted line is drawn to represent the height.

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