8 Difference between Long Column & Short column

Are you one of them who gets confused when it comes to a long column and a short column? Well, we all are human and get confused at some time. So no need to be ashamed of it! We are here to clear your every doubt and help you understand this most simply. 


So, let's try to understand every aspect of column one by one.


Long column and short column difference table



Long column

Short column

Long columns are not as strong as short columns; as a result, they are not preferable.

Short columns are the first choice of the constructor as they are stronger than long columns.

Due to buckling, long columns generally get buckled.

Short columns quickly fail due to crushing.

The slenderness ratio of long columns should be greater than 45.

The slenderness ratio of short columns should be less than 45. 

With the increased height of the columns, the load-carrying capacity also decreased. 

With the decreased height of the columns, the load-carrying capacity also increased. 

The long column has less gyration radius.

The short column has more gyration radius.

Long columns have a more buckling tendency.

Short columns have less buckling tendency.

If the columns are long and slender, they get buckled easily. 

Short columns fail while buckling.

The load-bearing capacity of long columns is less. 

The load-bearing capacity of short columns is more.


Difference between long column and short column


Let’s understand the difference between a long column and a short column. Well, there is no rocket science here but understanding small concepts is really crucial. In the first place, we will talk about the long column.

Long column


A long column length is determined by the ratio of effective length to lateral dimension, which should not be less than 12 (or we can say that should be more than 12 is essential). If the column satisfies all the necessary criteria, you can term it a long column. 


The formula applied here is lef / b > 12 

lef = effective length, b = least lateral dimension of column


Further, it is determined by the effective length/least radius of gyration should be more than 45. If the column follows the criteria, it will be considered a long column.  


Don’t get confused with the name, as the long column is unable to bear the load like a short column as it gets bent. In short, long column load-bearing capacity is directly proportional to the slenderness ratio. If the slenderness ratio increases, column capacity decreases. 

Short column


A short column length is determined by the ratio of effective length to the least lateral dimensions of this column, which should be less than 12. Following these criteria, the column is considered a short column. 


Here the formula is quite different, something like this; lef / b ≤ 12


lef = effective length, b = least lateral dimension of column 


So the ratio of effective length/least radius of gyration should be less than 12. Now, you can say that the column is a short column. You can also compare it in a different way, like when comparing the column length with the c/s dimension, the column length should be less than its c/s dimension. 


Well, calculating the length of the column is not a hectic job but understanding the difference is essential. 


Well, it does not stop here; there is one more column that needs your attention - The intermediate column. 


Let's discuss it in the below segment. 

Intermediate column


Intermediate columns, also known as steel columns require the below criteria to follow;


30d > L > 4d and 100 > Le / r min > 30 or one can also define it as critical slenderness ratio. 


Column - What is it?


Basically, the column is a compression member used in every concrete structure. Without columns, it is impossible to make the foundation strong. Mostly, the length of the column depends upon the building floors. More the floors, the more the height of the columns. 


One more thing to remember is there are other compression members also. A few of them are columns, struts, and pedestals. These three of them are crucial when it comes to the construction of bridges, tanks, factories, or any other type of construction.  


A column is vertical in position, strengthening every construction type's foundation.

Classification of columns


The classification of columns is made based on several criteria. A few of them are;

Cross-section shapes


The shapes of the cross-section include square, rectangular, circular, pentagonal, hexagonal, octagonal, t-shape, l-shape, etc. 

Construction materials


There are mainly five types of materials used in construction: Timber, Masonry, R.C.C., Steel, and Composite.

Loading types


You’ll find only two types of loading here; either axially loaded or eccentrically loaded. 

Slenderness ratio


This is where the main confusion begins. It includes three types depending on the ratio: long, short, and intermediate. 


In this article, we will mainly focus on clearing your doubts related to a long column and a short column. 


Bottom line


We understand if you are not from the construction field, it gets difficult to understand the difference between a long column and a short column. However, understanding these things is essential. Otherwise, some fraud contractor will make you a fool. 


Therefore, keep note of every essential thing related to the long and short columns; accordingly, talk with your contractor and try to understand whether he is saying all the right things or giving you false assumptions.


To make your concept clear, we mentioned every single detail about the long column and short column, including 


  • Definition of column
  • Classification of columns
  • What is a long column?
  • What is a short column?
  • Formulae to determine short column and long column
  • Difference between long column and short column

Hope all these points will clear your doubts and let you understand everything appropriately. Also, make your research well before handling construction work for any constructor. 

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