How Do You Convert DMS to a Decimal?


Quick Answer

To convert degrees, minutes and seconds (DMS) to decimal format, use the whole number provided for degrees and add a decimal point. Then divide the minutes by 60 and the seconds by 3600 and add these two numbers together to get the remaining portion. Expressed as a formula, decimal degrees = degrees + (minutes/60 + seconds/3600).

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Full Answer

As an example, for an angle 41 degrees, 51 minutes, 8 seconds, the conversion takes four steps:

1. Retain the whole number, 41, for degrees

2. Divide the 51 minutes by 60 to get 0.85

3. Divide the 8 seconds by 3600 to get 0.00222

4. Add 41 to 0.85 and 0.0022 to get the full decimal result of 41.85222

Converting from decimal to DMS requires a slightly different approach. For the decimal angle 41.8522, the steps would be as follows:

1. Retain the whole number, 41, for degrees

2. Multiply the decimal, 0.85222, by 60 to get 51.13657. The 51 is the number of minutes

3. Take the remaining fraction, 0.13657, and multiply by 60 to get 8.19396. The 8 is the number of seconds

In step 3, rounding to two decimal places may be all that is necessary, but it will often make sense to round to the nearest second.

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