A Quick Guide to Using UTM Coordinates

Example Map

Standing at the road junction marked with the star on the topographic map pictured above, a GPS unit set to display position in UTM coordinates, would report a location of:

10 S 0559741

The 10 S represents the zone you are in. The zone is necessary to make the coordinates unique over the entire globe.

The top set of numbers, 0559741, represent a measurement of East-West position, within the zone, in meters. It's called an easting.

The bottom set of numbers, 4282182, represent a measurement of North-South position, within the zone, in meters. It's called a northing.

The map has Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) grid lines spaced every kilometer or 1000 meters. The vertical grid lines determine East-West position and the horizontal grid lines determine North-South position.

Look along the bottom edge of the map at the labels for the vertical grid lines.

559 and 560000 mE.

The label, 560000 mE., reads "five hundred and sixty thousand meters East." The label, 559, is an abbreviation for, 559000 mE. The two grid lines are 1000 meters apart. The horizontal grid lines are labeled in a similar manner.


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