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The performance of the atomic force microscope (AFM) is underpinned by the properties of its force-sensing microcantilever. Due to the universal belief that V-shaped cantilevers are more resistant to lateral forces than rectangular cantilevers, V-shaped cantilevers are used widely in the AFM. A recent theoretical study [J. E. Sader, Rev. Sci. Instrum. 74, 2438 (2003)], however, discounts this entrenched operating principle by theoretically establishing that V-shaped AFM cantilevers offer less resistance to lateral forces than rectangular cantilevers. Since this finding is difficult to test on (microscopic) AFM cantilevers, we conduct detailed measurements on model macroscopic cantilevers, and thus verify this theoretical prediction. © 2003 American Institute of Physics.