## 1. Bearing or Azimuth?

Which one should a surveyor use to express directions? It shouldn't matter as both express the same thing abeit using a different format.

The bearing's biggest advantage is that it's immediately recognizable as a direction: N 24°18'30"E, S 56°05'24"W. An azimuth, on the other hand looks like an angle (which it is) with no indication what it represents *unless* it's specifically called out as a direction: 242°45'36" *vs* 242°45'36" Az.

Bearings are a more traditional way of expressing directions, especially in property surveys. Check any metes and bounds description or subdivision plat and chances are 10 times out of 9 that bearings will be used for directions.

Azimuths have a computational edge. Bearing angles are limited to a maximum of 90° and can be clockwise or counterclockwise measured from either end of the meridian. Azimuths always start from North and are clockwise. As we'll see in the ** Traverse Computations** topic, that makes simplifies computations somewhat. And we'll see later how azimuths are a little more efficient for other traverse computations.

So which direction format to use is basically up to the surveyor.

## 2. Now what?

This topic introduced basic definitions and conventions of directions and converting between angles and directions. *How* directions are used was not discussed. Combining directions with distances allows determination of complex areas and three-dimesional surface configurations. Most property surveys depend on distances and directions to define boundary extents.

*Traversing* is the traditional method of collection necessary measurements. Combining and reducing measurements in the traverse computation process includes direction determinations. This is covered in greater detail in the ** Traverse Computations** topic which builds on the concepts from this topic. Systematic procedures, mathematical checks, and typical errors are also discussed.