<img src="https://d5nxst8fruw4z.cloudfront.net/atrk.gif?account=iA1Pi1a8Dy00ym" style="display:none" height="1" width="1" alt="" />
Skip Navigation
Our Terms of Use (click here to view) have changed. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our new Terms of Use.

Double Angle Identities

Simplifying trigonometric functions with twice a given angle.

Atoms Practice
Estimated10 minsto complete
Practice Double Angle Identities
This indicates how strong in your memory this concept is
Estimated10 minsto complete
Practice Now
Turn In
Double Angle Identities

Finding the values for trig functions is pretty familiar to you by now. The trig functions of some particular angles may even seem obvious, since you've worked with them so many times. In some cases, you might be able to use this knowledge to your benefit to make calculating the values of some trig equations easier. For example, if someone asked you to evaluate

without consulting a table of trig values, could you do it?

You might notice right away that this is equal to four times . Can this help you? Read this lessons, and at its conclusion you'll know how to use certain formulas to simplify multiples of familiar angles to solve problems.

Double Angle Identities

Here we'll start with the sum and difference formulas for sine, cosine, and tangent. We can use these identities to help derive a new formula for when we are given a trig function that has twice a given angle as the argument.


For example, . This way, if we are given and are asked to find , we can use our new double angle identity to help simplify the problem. Let's start with the derivation of the double angle identities.

One of the formulas for calculating the sum of two angles is:

If and are both the same angle in the above formula, then

This is the double angle formula for the sine function. The same procedure can be used in the sum formula for cosine, start with the sum angle formula:

If and are both the same angle in the above formula, then

This is one of the double angle formulas for the cosine function. Two more formulas can be derived by using the Pythagorean Identity, .

and likewise

Therefore, the double angle formulas for are:

Finally, we can calculate the double angle formula for tangent, using the tangent sum formula:

If and are both the same angle in the above formula, then

We can use these formulas to help simplify calculations of trig functions of certain arguments.

Let's look at a few problems involving double angle identities. 

1. If and is in Quadrant II, find , , and .

To use , the value of must be found first.


However since is in Quadrant II, is negative or .

For , use

For , use . From above, .

2. Find .

Think of as .

Now, use the double angle formulas for both sine and cosine. For cosine, you can pick which formula you would like to use. In general, because we are proving a cosine identity, stay with cosine.

3. Solve the trigonometric equation such that

Using the sine double angle formula:


Example 1

Earlier, you were asked to solve .

You can simplify this into a familiar angle:

And then apply the double angle identity:

Example 2

If and is in Quad II, find the exact values of and

 If and in Quadrant II, then cosine and tangent are negative. Also, by the Pythagorean Theorem, the third side is . So, and . Using this, we can find , and .

Example 3

Find the exact value of

This is one of the forms for .

Example 4

Verify the identity:

Step 1: Use the cosine sum formula

Step 2: Use double angle formulas for and

Step 3: Distribute and simplify.


Simplify each expression so that it is in terms of and .

Solve each equation on the interval .

Simplify each expression so that only one calculation would be needed in order to evaluate.

Review (Answers)

To see the Review answers, open this PDF file and look for section 3.10. 

Notes/Highlights Having trouble? Report an issue.

Color Highlighted Text Notes
Please to create your own Highlights / Notes
Show More


Double Angle Identity

A double angle identity relates the trigonometric function of two times an argument to a set of trigonometric functions, each containing the original argument.

Half Angle Identity

A half angle identity relates a trigonometric function of one half of an argument to a set of trigonometric functions, each containing the original argument.


An identity is a mathematical sentence involving the symbol “=” that is always true for variables within the domains of the expressions on either side.

power reducing identity

A power reducing identity relates the power of a trigonometric function containing a given argument to a set of trigonometric functions, each containing the original argument.

Image Attributions

Explore More

Sign in to explore more, including practice questions and solutions for Double Angle Identities.
Please wait...
Please wait...