The Difference Between Square Units and Units Square popular
The Difference Between Square Units and Units Square:
Are "Square Miles" and "Miles Square" the Same Thing?
When referring to the units used for area measurements, such as those associated with a parcel of land, is there a difference between "square units" and "units square"? In other words, is a "5 mile square" piece of land the same size as one that is "5 square miles"? Many consider these terms interchangeable, so it may surprise you to find out that these two phrases do in fact mean different things.
Say you want to know the total area of a parcel of land using a unit of measurement expressed as the square of a unit of length (as opposed to units that are not squares of other units, like acre or hectare). You would, of course, use the term "square units", as in "square feet" or "square meters". For example, the total area of a one acre piece of land is one acre or 43,560 square feet. The parcel being measured can be any shape - even if it is not square, its area may still be expressed as square feet, square meters, or any other square unit.
In contrast, a parcel that is 43,560 "feet square" is indeed a square piece of land, many times larger than one acre. While "square units" refers to the total area of a two-dimensional object of any shape, "units square" refers to the number of units on each side of a square (the length of each side of the square). Therefore, a parcel that is 43,560 feet square is 43,560 feet long on each side, with a total area of 43,560 ft x 43,560 ft = 1,897,473,600 square feet (equal to 43,560 acres).
For example, consider two square pieces of land: one is 7 square miles, and the other is 7 miles square. The total area of the first parcel is 7 square miles. If the parcel is a square, the length of each side is equal to the square root of 7 square miles, which is approximately 2.65 miles. In contrast, the length of each side of the second parcel is 7 miles, for a total area of 7 miles x 7 miles = 49 square miles.
A few more simple examples: a 2 feet square piece of land has an area of 4 square feet (2 feet x 2 feet), a 20 meter square parcel has an area of 400 square meters (20 meters x 20 meters), and 100 square miles is equal to a piece of land that is 10 miles square.
Browse conversion factors and examples for length and area units here.
Added: Wed Oct 15 2008