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4.2: Exterior Angles Theorems

Difficulty Level: At Grade Created by: CK-12
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What if you knew that two of the exterior angles of a triangle measured 130^\circ ? How could you find the measure of the third exterior angle? After completing this Concept, you'll be able to apply the Exterior Angle Sum Theorem to solve problems like this one.

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CK-12 Foundation: Chapter4ExteriorAnglesTheoremsA

James Sousa: Introduction to the Exterior Angles of a Triangle

James Sousa: Proof that the Sum of the Exterior Angles of a Triangle is 360 Degrees

James Sousa: Proof of the Exterior Angles Theorem


An exterior angle is the angle formed by one side of a polygon and the extension of the adjacent side. In all polygons, there are two sets of exterior angles, one going around the polygon clockwise and the other goes around the polygon counterclockwise. By the definition, the interior angle and its adjacent exterior angle form a linear pair.

The Exterior Angle Sum Theorem states that each set of exterior angles of a polygon add up to 360^\circ .

m \angle 1+m \angle 2+m \angle 3 &= 360^\circ\\m \angle 4+m \angle 5+m \angle 6 &= 360^\circ

Remote interior angles are the two angles in a triangle that are not adjacent to the indicated exterior angle. \angle A and \angle B are the remote interior angles for exterior angle \angle ACD .

The Exterior Angle Theorem states that the sum of the remote interior angles is equal to the non-adjacent exterior angle. From the picture above, this means that m \angle A+m \angle B=m \angle ACD . Here is the proof of the Exterior Angle Theorem. From the proof, you can see that this theorem is a combination of the Triangle Sum Theorem and the Linear Pair Postulate.

Given : \triangle ABC with exterior angle \angle ACD

Prove : m \angle A+m \angle B=m \angle ACD

Statement Reason
1. \triangle ABC with exterior angle \angle ACD Given
2. m \angle A+m \angle B+m \angle ACB=180^\circ Triangle Sum Theorem
3. m \angle ACB+m \angle ACD=180^\circ Linear Pair Postulate
4. m \angle A+m \angle B+m \angle ACB=m \angle ACB+m \angle ACD Transitive PoE
5. m \angle A+m \angle B=m \angle ACD Subtraction PoE

Example A

Find the measure of \angle RQS .

112^\circ is an exterior angle of \triangle RQS . Therefore, it is supplementary to \angle RQS because they are a linear pair.

112^\circ + m \angle RQS &= 180^\circ\\m \angle RQS &= 68^\circ

If we draw both sets of exterior angles on the same triangle, we have the following figure:

Notice, at each vertex, the exterior angles are also vertical angles, therefore they are congruent.

\angle 4 & \cong \angle 7\\\angle 5 & \cong \angle 8\\\angle 6 & \cong \angle 9

Example B

Find the measure of the numbered interior and exterior angles in the triangle.

m \angle 1 + 92^\circ = 180^\circ by the Linear Pair Postulate, so m \angle 1 = 88^\circ .

m \angle 2 + 123^\circ = 180^\circ by the Linear Pair Postulate, so m \angle 2 = 57^\circ .

m \angle 1+m \angle 2+m \angle 3=180^\circ by the Triangle Sum Theorem, so 88^\circ + 57^\circ + m \angle 3 = 180^\circ and m \angle 3 = 35^\circ .

m \angle 3 + m \angle 4 = 180^\circ by the Linear Pair Postulate, so m \angle 4 = 145^\circ .

Example C

What is the value of p in the triangle below?

First, we need to find the missing exterior angle, we will call it x . Set up an equation using the Exterior Angle Sum Theorem.

130^\circ+110^\circ+x &= 360^\circ\\x &= 360^\circ-130^\circ-110^\circ\\x &= 120^\circ

x and p are supplementary and add up to 180^\circ .

x + p &= 180^\circ\\120^\circ + p &=180^\circ\\p &= 60^\circ

Watch this video for help with the Examples above.

CK-12 Foundation: Chapter4TriangleSumTheoremA

Concept Problem Revisited

The third exterior angle of the triangle below is \angle 1 .

By the Exterior Angle Sum Theorem:

 m \angle 1 + 130^\circ + 130^\circ = 360^\circ\\m \angle 1 = 100^\circ

Guided Practice

1. Find m \angle A .

2. Find m \angle C .

3. Find the value of x and the measure of each angle.


1. Set up an equation using the Exterior Angle Theorem. m\angle A +79^\circ=115^\circ . Therefore, m \angle A = 36^\circ .

2. Using the Exterior Angle Theorem, m \angle C + 16^\circ = 121^\circ . Subtracting 16^\circ from both sides, m \angle C = 105^\circ .

3. Set up an equation using the Exterior Angle Theorem.

&(4x+2)^\circ+(2x-9)^\circ =(5x+13)^\circ\\& \quad \uparrow \qquad \nearrow \qquad \qquad \qquad \quad \uparrow\\& \ \text{interior angles} \qquad  \qquad \text{exterior angle}\\& \qquad \qquad \quad (6x-7)^\circ = (5x+13)^\circ\\&\qquad \qquad \qquad \qquad \ x = 20^\circ

Substituting 20^\circ back in for x , the two interior angles are (4(20)+2)^\circ =82^\circ and (2(20)-9)^\circ=31^\circ . The exterior angle is (5(20)+13)^\circ=113^\circ . Double-checking our work, notice that 82^\circ + 31^\circ = 113^\circ . If we had done the problem incorrectly, this check would not have worked.

Interactive Practice

Explore More

Determine m\angle{1} .

Use the following picture for the next three problems:

  1. What is m\angle{1}+m\angle{2}+m\angle{3} ?
  2. What is m\angle{4}+m\angle{5}+m\angle{6} ?
  3. What is m\angle{7}+m\angle{8}+m\angle{9} ?

Solve for x .

  1. Suppose the measures of the three angles of a triangle are x, y, and z. Explain why x+y+z=180 .
  2. Suppose the measures of the three angles of a triangle are x, y, and z. Explain why the expression (180-x)+(180-y)+(180-z) represents the sum of the exterior angles of the triangle.
  3. Use your answers to the previous two problems to help justify why the sum of the exterior angles of a triangle is 360 degrees. Hint: Use algebra to show that (180-x)+(180-y)+(180-z) must equal 360 if x+y+z=180 .

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Difficulty Level:

At Grade


Date Created:

Jul 17, 2012

Last Modified:

Feb 26, 2015
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