Poles of a magnet

A magnet can exert a force on another nearby magnet and magnetic materials such as iron. Magnets have two poles:

The magnetic force is strongest near the magnet's poles.

A bar magnet, with the north and south poles marked red and blue.

The rules of magnetism

Two magnets will either attract or repel each other in the following way:

  • like poles (N–N or S–S) repel
  • unlike poles (N–S or S–N) attract

Magnetic forces are non-contact forces – this means that magnets affect each other without touching. It is an example of a force acting at a distance.