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Angles are measured in degrees which is denoted by , a small circle raised above the text in the same fashion as an exponent (or a superscript).

Angles can also be measured in radians. At high school level you will only use degrees, but if you decide to take maths at university you will learn about radians.

Angle labelled as B ^ , C B A or A B C
Examples of angles. A ^ = E ^ , even though the lines making up the angles are of different lengths.

Measuring angles

The size of an angle does not depend on the length of the lines that are joined to make up the angle, but depends only on how both the lines are placed as can be seen in [link] . This means that the idea of length cannot be used to measure angles. An angle is a rotation around the vertex.

Using a protractor

A protractor is a simple tool that is used to measure angles. A picture of a protractor is shown in [link] .

Diagram of a protractor.


Using a protractor

  1. Place the bottom line of the protractor along one line of the angle so that the other line of the angle points at the degree markings.
  2. Move the protractor along the line so that the centre point on the protractor is at the vertex of the two lines that make up the angle.
  3. Follow the second line until it meets the marking on the protractor and read off the angle. Make sure you start measuring at 0 .

Measuring angles : use a protractor to measure the following angles:

Special angles

What is the smallest angle that can be drawn? The figure below shows two lines ( C A and A B ) making an angle at a common vertex A . If line C A is rotated around the common vertex A , down towards line A B , then the smallest angle that can be drawn occurs when the two lines are pointing in the same direction. This gives an angle of 0 . This is shown in [link]

If line C A is now swung upwards, any other angle can be obtained. If line C A and line A B point in opposite directions (the third case in [link] ) then this forms an angle of 180 .

If three points A , B and C lie on a straight line, then the angle between them is 180 . Conversely, if the angle between three points is 180 , then the points lie on a straight line.

An angle of 90 is called a right angle . A right angle is half the size of the angle made by a straight line (180 ). We say C A is perpendicular to A B or C A A B . An angle twice the size of a straight line is 360 . An angle measuring 360 looks identical to an angle of 0 , except for the labelling. We call this a revolution .

An angle of 90 is known as a right angle .

Angles larger than 360

All angles larger than 360 also look like we have seen them before. If you are given an angle that is larger than 360 , continue subtracting 360 from the angle, until you get an answer that is between 0 and 360 . Angles that measure more than 360 are largely for mathematical convenience.

  • Acute angle : An angle 0 and < 90 .
  • Right angle : An angle measuring 90 .
  • Obtuse angle : An angle > 90 and < 180 .
  • Straight angle : An angle measuring 180 .
  • Reflex angle : An angle > 180 and < 360 .
  • Revolution : An angle measuring 360 .

These are simply labels for angles in particular ranges, shown in [link] .

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Source:  OpenStax, Siyavula textbooks: grade 10 maths [caps]. OpenStax CNX. Aug 03, 2011 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11306/1.4
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