United States National Grid

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The United States National Grid (USNG) is a general-purpose location system of grid references used in the United States. It provides a nationally consistent "language of location" in a user friendly format. It is similar in design to the national grid reference systems used in other nations. The USNG was adopted as a national standard by the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) in 2001.


The purpose of the USNG according to the FGDC, is to "create a more interoperable environment for developing location-based services within the United States and to increase the interoperability of location services appliances with printed map products by establishing a nationally consistent grid reference system as the preferred grid for NSDI applications. The U.S. National Grid is based on universally-defined coordinate and grid systems and can, therefore, be easily extended for use worldwide as a universal grid reference system." [1]

It resembles the Military Grid Reference System (MGRS). When the WGS84 datum or NAD83 datum is used, USNG and MGRS coordinates are "equivalent".[2]

In addition, it has the advantage of being easily plotted on USGS topographic and other properly gridded maps by using a simple "read right and then up" convention where the user measures to the East and then North in linear increments. The coordinates are easily translated to distance as they are actually in meters rather than the more complex degree based increments of latitude and longitude. Thus the distance between two coordinates can quickly be determined in the field.

[This stub article will be revised soon. Currently, more detailed information on USNG can be found at the U.S. National Grid Information Center website.]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Federal Geographic Data Committee (December 2001). "USNG Standard (FGDC-STD-011-2001)" (PDF). FGDC. Retrieved 3 March 2019.
  2. ^ Cavell, J. Anthony. "A Guide to using the USNG", The American Surveyor, 2005. Retrieved on 14 September 2012.

External links[edit]