Map Basics - The Grid

The Grid

The Grid

On each map, you’ll notice a grid of squares covering the entire surface of the map. 

The grid used in UK mapping is known as the National Grid.  At the edges of the map you’ll notice that each grid line is given a number and every set of 100x100 squares has a two-letter reference. 

The numbers along the bottom and top of the map are called Eastings, and the ones along the left and right of the map are called Northings.  You read the two letters first, followed by the Easting, and then the Northing.  We’ll add a FYA Basics video to accompany this post so you can see how this is done in practice.

Using these letters, together with the numbers (which run along the left and right sides, and top and bottom edges of your map) you can quickly tell which 1km by 1km area of the UK you are looking at.  You can also pass this information on to someone else so that they can quickly locate the area you are at, or referring to. 

The main grid which is shown on the map already offers a 1km level of accuracy.  To improve the accuracy, you’ll just need to break each grid square down to a smaller 10x10 grid (there’s a great feature on a compass called a 'romer scale' which will help you do this easily - we'll show you how in our Compass Basics tutorials).  This smaller grid will get you down to a 100m level of accuracy.  That’s usually sufficient for most situations.  You can be even more precise by breaking the grid down further still.  This is MUCH easier on a 1:25k scale map (we’ve covered SCALE on another FYA BASICS post). 

So that’s the GRID explained! 

Make sure you follow us on social media and YouTube @FindYourADV for more updates and FYA BASICS – and don’t forget to use the comments section below to join the conversation, ask questions, and add your opinions and views – we want to hear from you! 


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