# How Do I Calculate Shear Stress?

**Shear stress is calculated by dividing the force exerted on an object by that object's cross-sectional area.** Shear stress is one of the three primary stresses present in nature, which also includes tension and compression. This form of stress is the result of forces applied parallel to a surface. Typically, the symbol for a given stress is the Greek symbol "tau," or "τ."

**Determine the cross-sectional area of the object**Determine the cross-sectional area of the object by measuring or reviewing the given information. For this step, having a list of geometrical equations is helpful because the formulas for area differ depending on the shape. The metric system is often used when performing these calculations.

**Determine the force acting on the object**Determine the force that is subjecting the object to the shear stress. If this is a word problem, it is likely to be provided. If you are trying to determine a stress in real life, use a force meter. These computational devices often come with a hook or clamp, and they produce a digital reading of the force. Typically, force is measured in newtons.

**Calculate the stress**Calculate the stress by dividing the force by the cross sectional area. The exact equation is "τ = F/A."