How to Read Latitude and Longitude?

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If you are completely unaware of what is latitude and longitude, you might find it difficult to learn how to read latitude and longitude. 

The longitude and latitude are the GPS coordinates and it helps us find the exact location of any object on earth. If you have gone through our previous tutorials, you might have learned to find longitude and latitude map but how to read coordinates is something we still have not taught you!

No matter if you have latitude and longitude finder, or you know what exactly are the coordinates of any location, you can’t locate someone or something exactly until you know the correct methodology for reading the GPS coordinates, and that’s what this tutorial does.

In this guide, we will walk you through the exact steps to reading the latitude and longitude of any location, along with the exact meaning and definition of what are GPS coordinates. So let’s dive deeper into the guide.

How to Read Latitude and Longitude:

Reading latitude and longitude might not be difficult for you if you have some pre-knowledge about them. So in order to learn reading these coordinates, we first need to know a little more about them.

#What is Latitude and Longitude:

If you are somewhere out of the countryside and have lost the map, how would you find the pinpoint location of someone or any place??? I know you would say using your mobile’s GPS.

That’s right. We all use the GPS(Global Positioning System) to pinpoint the locations. And the GPS system uses the intersection points between the various horizontal and verticle lines to find any location. These lines, we know as latitude and longitude.

The latitude and longitude lines are also known as GPS coordinates. Not every time we need to use the GPS coordinates to find any location but in case your GPS device is not working or not showing the exact location, you will require using the GPS coordinates to find the location.

This is just a little overview of latitude and longitude but you will get to know more about them below in the guide. Now that you know about latitude and longitude, I am hoping you will understand the terminology involved in finding and reading them. Let’s go ahead and learn to read the GPS coordinates.

#How to Find Google Coordinates:

To find the google coordinates, you can refer to this previous guide How to find google coordinates Where I have mentioned a couple of methods for the same.

#How to Read Latitude and Longitude:

Now we have reached the important section of the guide which is reading Latitude and longitude. Read the following points carefully. These points will help you understand the GPS systems more easily and you will understand how to actually read the GPS coordinates.

#1. As said above, the GPS system makes use of the latitude and longitude i.e Coordinates to pinpoint any location. But you will get to learn what exactly are the lines of latitude and longitude by the following image.

#2. Since the earth is round, we read the GPS coordinates in degrees.

#3. As you saw above, the earth is divided into geographic horizontal and vertical lines. The Horizontal lines are the lines of latitude, while the vertical lines are known as the longitude.

The longest line of latitude is known as the Equator and the equator divides the earth into two parts i.e South and North.

The lines above the equator are represented as 1°, 2°, 3°, 4° and so on up to 90° with the sign N i.e North. So, we denote lines of latitude in the north as 45°N, 70°N and so on. 

The lines below the equator are indicated with minus or S Symbol and read as 45°S, 75°S and so on. Or the lines of latitude below the equator i.e in southern direction are also represented as -56°, -68v and so on.

There is nothing different in reading the lines of latitude above or below the equator except the symbol or sign.

#4. The lines of longitude are the lines that divide the earth in the vertical direction. The Longest line of longitude is known as Prime Meridian. And it is represented as 0° longitude.

The Prime meridian divides the search in the east and west. The lines of longitude moving in the east direction are measured as 1°, 2°, 3° and so on up to 180° and they are represented with the symbol E. Means, if you have a GPS coordinate written as 15°E’, you need to understand the location is 15° longitude in the east direction.

Similarly, lines to the west of the Prime Median are represented as 10°W, 20°W, 30°W and so on.

#5. There are two formats the GPS coordinates are written, DD and DMS, where DD refers as Decimal Degrees while DMS is for Degrees, Minutes and Seconds.

#6. You have two coordinates of a location say,

45° 25′ 31.6” N,   83° 06′ 51.3” W(DMS) 

You will have to understand the first set of numbers i.e 45° 25′ 31.6” N is the latitude of any location, whereas the second set of numbers i.e 83° 06′ 51.3” W is the longitude of the given location.

The latitude i.e 45° 25′ 31.6” N read as “45 degrees, 25 minutes, 31.6 seconds north. While the longitude will be read as 83 degrees, 06 minutes, 51.3 seconds east.

#7. If you have coordinates in the DD format, they will look like 46.4896214575, 220.65729448E. To read this, you will need to convert decimal degrees into degrees, minutes and seconds

Let’s say we need to read the latitude 46.4896214575. Since it’s positive, it indicates the direction in N. The digits before points are the degree. Means, 46°. To find the minutes, multiply the rest of the number in decimals to 60. Like,

Means 29 minutes. Now, to find the seconds, again multiply the decimal number with 60. Just like below.

Meaning, 22 seconds. So the coordinate will be read as 46° in the north, 29 minutes and 22 seconds. So that’s how to read latitude and longitude. 

If the tutorial was helpful to you, feel free to share it with others to pinpoint any location on earth. For any doubt or query, drop us a comment below.


A graduate of the IIMC, Diksha enjoys testing out new tech products and services. Her goal is to help others make more informed purchases of tech products and services. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, watching movies, and listening to music. An ardent reader loves to be surrounded by technology.

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