An orientation on an -dimensional manifold is given
by a nowhere vanishing differential *n*-form.
Alternatively, it is an bundle orientation
for the tangent bundle. If an orientation exists
on ,
then
is called orientable.

Not all manifolds are orientable, as exemplified by the Möbius strip and the Klein bottle, illustrated above.

However, an -dimensional submanifold of is orientable iff it has a unit normal vector field. The choice of unit determines the orientation of the submanifold. For example, the sphere is orientable.

Some types of manifolds are always orientable. For instance, complex manifolds, including varieties, and also symplectic manifolds are orientable. Also, any unoriented manifold has a double cover which is oriented.

A map between oriented manifolds of the same dimension is called orientation preserving if the volume form on pulls back to a positive volume form on . Equivalently, the differential maps an oriented basis in to an oriented basis in .