Chapter 5: Mobile Mapping Fundamentals

Nicolas MalloyAuthor: Nicolas R. Malloy


5.7 Bearings


Using bearings is a common method of indicating direction. A bearing is the angular difference away from a north or south baseline, ranging from 0° to 90°. Determining your bearing begins with a north or south baseline, whichever is closer to your direction. The angle is then measured east or west from the baseline. A bearing is written with the following notation:

N or S (baseline) degrees° E or W (orientation)

An image of a bearing diagram

For example if I were facing true north and then turned 45° clockwise, my bearing would be:

N 45° E

An image of a bearing diagram

Similarly, if I were facing true North and then turned 200° clockwise, my bearing would be:

S 20° W

An image of a bearing diagram

Sometimes you also need to find the opposite direction from which you face. A back bearing is the opposite direction from a bearing and is easily determined by simply changing the letters. Using the examples above, the back bearings would be:

S 45° W and N 20° E

An image of a bearing diagram