Easting and northing

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The terms easting and northing are geographic Cartesian coordinates for a point. Easting refers to the eastward-measured distance (or the x-coordinate), while northing refers to the northward-measured distance (or the y-coordinate).

Easting and northing coordinates are commonly measured in metres from a horizontal datum. However, imperial units (e.g., survey feet) are also used. The coordinates are most commonly associated with the Universal Transverse Mercator coordinate system (UTM), which has unique zones that cover the Earth to provide detailed referencing.

The term northing has also been used by explorers to describe a general progress toward the North Pole. Isaac Israel Hayes used this term in an 1861 address to the New-York Geographical and Statistical Society saying, "The want of steam power curtailed my northing."[1]

Notation and conventions

Locations can be found using easting/northing (or x, y) pairs. The pair is usually represented conventionally with easting first, northing second.

For example, the peak of Mount Assiniboine (at Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found.) in UTM Zone 11 is represented by 11U 594934 5636174. Other conventions can also be used, such as a truncated grid reference,[2] which would shorten the example coordinates to 949-361.

Negative northing and easting values indicate a position due south and west of the origin, respectively.

See also


  1. ARCTIC EXPLORATIONS.; Lecture of Dr. J.S. Hayes before the New-York Geographical and Statistical Society. DR. HAYES' REPORT. The New York Times(November 15, 1861).
  2. "Truncated Grid References". Bivouac.com - Canadian Mountain Encyclopedia. 2006-11-17.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>