D. Summary

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.