Coordinates Easting and Northing in the Projected Coordinate System

Easting and Northing are terms used in cartography and surveying to describe a location within a two-dimensional Cartesian coordinate system, typically in relation to a geographic or projected coordinate system. They are a part of grid coordinates used to pinpoint a location on a map.

Understanding Easting and Northing

  • Easting: Refers to the eastward-measured distance (or the x-coordinate) from a defined meridian (a north-south line) to a point on a map. It’s akin to longitude but used in a grid-based system.
  • Northing: Refers to the northward-measured distance (or the y-coordinate) from a defined parallel (an east-west line) to a point on a map. It’s similar to latitude in its grid-based equivalent.

Coordinate Systems

Easting and Northing are used in various coordinate systems, such as the Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) and the British National Grid (BNG). These systems divide the Earth into zones or grids, allowing for more precise and standardized mapping.

Example with UTM Coordinates

In the UTM system, the world is divided into zones. Each zone has its own central meridian, and Easting values are measured relative to this central meridian. Northing values are measured from the equator. A UTM coordinate might look like this:

  • Zone 33N 500000m E 4649776m N

This means:

  • The location is in Zone 33N.
  • 500000 meters east of the central meridian of Zone 33.
  • 4649776 meters north of the equator.

How They Are Used

  • Navigation and Mapping: For precisely locating points on a map, especially in fields like surveying, military operations, and civil engineering.
  • GPS Devices and Geographic Information Systems (GIS): These systems often use Easting and Northing coordinates to represent locations.

Conversion to/from Longitude and Latitude

While Easting and Northing provide accurate grid coordinates, sometimes you need to convert these to traditional longitude and latitude (and vice versa), especially when interfacing with GPS systems. This conversion involves complex calculations, often handled by GIS software or specific conversion tools and formulas.

For example, converting UTM coordinates (Easting and Northing) to geographic coordinates (longitude and latitude) requires knowing the specific zone, hemisphere, and using a series of mathematical transformations.


Easting and Northing offer a precise way to specify locations on a map, particularly useful in professional and technical applications requiring high accuracy. Understanding and working with these coordinates often involve specialized tools and software, especially when dealing with conversions between different coordinate systems.

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