To calculate the surface area of a sphere, you can use the PI function together with the exponent operator (^). In the example shown, the formula in C5, copied down, is:


which calculates the surface area of a sphere with the radius given in column B. Units are indicated generically with "u", and the result is units squared (u2).

Generic formula



In geometry, a sphere is defined as the set of points that are all the same distance (r) from a given point in a three-dimensional space. The formula for calculating the surface area of a sphere is: 


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 using Excel's math operators we get:


Or, with the POWER function:


For example, with a radius of 5 hardcoded into the formulas we have:

=4*PI()*5^2 // returns 314.16
=4*PI()*POWER(5,2) // returns 314.16 

and both formulas return the same result. Following Excel's order of operations, exponentiation will occur before multiplication.

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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.