When it comes to 3D I see object dimensions described with attributes: - width - height - length

When it comes to 2D I'm a bit confused, sometimes I see width,height sometimes width,length

For example when defining a 2D canvas in a Adobe software you use width & height.

But if I make some research in the net it seems more correct to use width,length for 2D then height will be added as 3rd axis.

Maybe it depends also if the object is usually intended to be horizontal or vertically oriented. (That would explain a why using height for a canvas on a monitor)

But what if it's a paper sheet, where actually u don't know if it's intended for horizontal or vertical positioning?

  • Even worse according to wikipedia: Furthermore, in this case, these three values can be labeled by any combination of three chosen from the terms width, height, depth, and breadth. So breadth and depth are joining your list.
    – Helmar
    Commented Jul 13, 2016 at 15:33
  • Yep Wikipedia messed up my mind more too.
    – koalaok
    Commented Jul 13, 2016 at 15:34
  • 3
    It depends on what you're drawing and the "view" you've chosen to use. If you're drawing a door "width and height" make sense. If you're drawing a rug, "width and length" makes sense.
    – Jim
    Commented Jul 13, 2016 at 15:53
  • @Helmar Depth is usually restricted to the third dimension or Z axis Commented Jul 13, 2016 at 16:04
  • 1
    @Spagirl - exactly. That’s why I said it depends on the “view” you’ve chosen to use.
    – Jim
    Commented Jul 13, 2016 at 16:16

2 Answers 2


Width × Height is standard for programming and markup languages, which is probably why you found it in your Adobe software. Examples include:

HTML img and Canvas


Java Rectangle

C++ Rectangle (example — not intrinsic, have seen people use length)

C# graphics (Microsoft’s description of functions)

Python graphics (example library — not intrinsic)

That doesn’t mean length is wrong in other contexts; it just shows that in a field where you have to stick to one or the other, height is generally used.

  • Agree with this. Also, length is too generic. You can find the length of the width, the length of the height but you cannot find the height of the length, or the height of the width :) Commented Jul 13, 2016 at 16:09
  • I think this is the answer that best fits my doubt. Anyway, always thinking about computers and software related to 3D objects , what would be then the third attribute added to (width, height) to describe the third dimension?
    – koalaok
    Commented Jul 14, 2016 at 7:41
  • @koalaok — I don't know about that. Computationally there is a tendency to use x, y, z, and to specify objects in terms of points in space. I presume in consumer programs there is a term, but I haven't any available to check. Someone else will probably be able to tell you.
    – David
    Commented Jul 14, 2016 at 9:34

I think this is a matter of understanding the orientation of the view you are drawing.

When you are drawing a Plan View, (as if looking down on the object from above) you can only see how long and how wide the object is, the height doesn’t show, so you can’t draw it.

If you are drawing an Elevation or Side View you can only see how wide and how high the object is, so you can’t draw the length.

So the difference in software is likely to depend on how the developers conceived it would mainly be used.

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