Toggle between Radians and Degrees on Your Scientific Calculator

By Mary Jane Sterling

Scientific calculators are very accommodating — they give you results in either degrees or radians, depending on which mode you set them in. This feature is great, but it trips up even the best mathematicians from time to time. Each calculator is different, but they always have either a single button or a multiple-button sequence that switches from radians to degrees and back again — sort of like a toggle switch.

Some calculators even have a legend at the top or bottom of the screen that tells you whether you’re in degree or radian mode, perhaps as obvious as an R or D. Problems tend to arise when you use your calculator for more than one task. Perhaps you’re studying both trigonometry and physics, and one calls for degree mode while the other calls for radian mode. Just be aware, and you won’t get caught.