There are a wide variety of steel shapes available.  The most common shapes are listed below; however, many manufacturers have special shapes.

The nomenclature for steel shapes follows two standards:

  1. For wide flange, bearing pile, S-shapes, channels, and tees: the letter indicates the shape, the first number indicates the nominal height, and the second number indicates the weight per 1 foot of length.  For instance, the W12x36 listed in the table below is a wide flange shape that has a nominal height of 12" and weighs 36 pounds per foot of length.
  2. For steel tubes, pipes, plates, and angles: the 3 numbers indicate the height, width, and thickness of the steel. 

Wide Flange Wide Flange W12x36 Flange surfaces are parallel; flange thickness is not necessarily equal to the web thickness.
Bearing Pile Bearing Pile HP14x73 Flange surfaces are parallel; flange and web have equal thicknesses.
S-Shape American Standard Beam S15x50 The inner flange surface is sloped.
Channel Channel C12x30 Standard AISC flanges have sloped inner flange surfaces.
Tee Tee




WT shapes are cut from a wide flange.

ST shapes are cut from American Standard Beams.

MT shapes are cut from non-standard I-shapes.

Steel Tube

Hollow Steel Section

Steel Tube



Either nomenclature is acceptable; however, HSS is more common.
Angle Angle



Angles come in equal leg or unequal leg sizes.  The diagram at left shows an unequal leg.
Pipe Pipe Pipe 4 STD
Plate Plate PL 0.5x12"x30" Very small plates can also be called bars.
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