To calculate the surface area of a cylinder, you can use the standard geometric formula based on the PI function together with the exponent operator (^). In the example shown, the formula in D5, copied down, is:


which returns the surface area of a cylinder with the radius given in column B and the height given in column C. Units are indicated generically with "u", and the resulting volume is units squared (u2).

Generic formula



In geometry, the standard formula for calculating the surface area of a cylinder is: 

In essence, this formula first calculates the area of the side of the cylinder, based on the circumference of the circle times the height of the cylinder, then adds two times the area of circle to account for the ends of the cylinder.

The Greek letter π ("pi") represents the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. In Excel, π is represented in a formula with the PI function, which returns the number 3.14159265358979, accurate to 15 digits:

=PI() // returns 3.14159265358979

To square a number in Excel, you can use the exponentiation operator (^):


Or, you can use the POWER function:


Rewriting the formula for volume of a cylinder with Excel's math operators, we get:


Or, with the POWER function:


The result is the same for both formulas. Following Excel's order of operations, exponentiation will occur before multiplication, which will occur before addition.

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Dave Bruns

Hi - I'm Dave Bruns, and I run Exceljet with my wife, Lisa. Our goal is to help you work faster in Excel. We create short videos, and clear examples of formulas, functions, pivot tables, conditional formatting, and charts.