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6.1 Bearing PDF Print E-mail


A bearing provides a direction given as the primary compass direction (north or south), degree of angle, and an east or west designation. A bearing describes a line as heading north or south, and deflected some number of degrees toward the east or west. A bearing, therefore, will always have an angle less than 90°.

Example 1 - Megan starts at a point and goes in the direction shown in the figure below. What is her bearing?

Megan is in the NE quadrant. The primary compass direction is north. Count the degrees down from North, for a total of 70°.

Megan's bearing is written as North70°East (N 70°E).

Note that a straight line has two bearings. For example, the line above can be extended down into the SW quadrant.

Example 2 - Jake is walking on the line in the sketch going southerly. What is his bearing?

Step 1. State the primary direction. In this case, the primary direction is south.

Step 2. Count the degrees from the primary direction. Counting from south, the angle is 30.°

Step 3. State the direction the angle is deflected. The angle is deflected to the East.

Jake's bearing is written as South30°East (S 30°E).


1. If Jake turns around in the example above, what will his bearing be?

Select the correct answer.

Note that when changing direction along the same line, the bearing letters N, S, E, W change, but the angle does not.