National Wildfire Coordinating Group

6.1 Bearing

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°. 

Example 1 image


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?


Example 2 Image


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).


Select the correct answer(s) from the questions below: