How Do You Use GPS Coordinates to Find a Location?


Quick Answer

Global Positioning System coordinates can be entered as a waypoint into a GPS device, plotted on a physical map or entered into a computer mapping software to find any specific location. All GPS coordinates come in two sets of information, one for latitude and one for longitude.

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Full Answer

The coordinates can be expressed in two ways, either in a digitized number of degrees or in the conventional navigation terms of hours, minutes and seconds. You want to make sure you have the coordinate in the correct format for the mapping method you wish to use.

Coordinate entry into a GPS device is simple, and although it may vary slightly depending on which device you use, it is typically very similar. A GPS mapping device can be a standalone unit or a GPS enabled smartphone. Simply go to the navigation screen, enter the latitude and longitude coordinates, and the device shows you the location. The process is very similar on a computer using a mapping website such as Google Maps or Google Earth.

On a physical map, there are incremental lines marked in segments going both north and south as well as east and west. The largest increments are hours with the next smallest being in minutes and the smallest being seconds. You can trace the numbers you're looking for from those on the map's outer edge and find the point where they meet for your location.

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