# 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.”

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. Calculate the stress

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