In a GIS application I'm developing there's an option to show two types of grids. First is a standard lat/lon grid. Second is a crosshair with marks and distances in four directions away from the center.

attached image.

Since English isn't my native language I wonder how to better call these two types in menus, etc. to distinguish between them?

  • What are they called in your language?
    – whuber
    Jan 10, 2012 at 23:05
  • If translate literally I'd call them something like coordinate grid and distance grid ('grid of coordinates' and 'grid of distances' even more literally) but not sure this sounds good in English. Also second type of grid looks like 'reticle' but AFAIK this word is usually used when talking about optical tools.
    – pronvit
    Jan 10, 2012 at 23:39

5 Answers 5


Who's your target audience? I agree that graticules (or - as an ex-surveyor - reticule) is the word that first came to mind, but if you're aiming this at a less-experienced user base, then I would stick to something more descriptive like your suggestion of Coordinate Grid and Distance Grid.


For the first type, coordinate grid would be a good choice.

For the second type I would choose either:

  • graticule
  • stadia lines
  • hair lines
  • calibration lines

Although these words don't come from the cartographic world per se, you don't tend to find them on paper maps; so there's been no need for a cartographic name for them. You might find a graticule printed on acetate or similar that can be overlaid on a paper map to achieve the same effect.


Say that both are graticules. The first is a coordinate-based graticule (the standard kind that we think of when we hear "graticule"), while the second is a distance-based graticule. For clarity in a menu, however, you may want to only refer to the first as a graticule, while the second could be fairly called a reticle/reticule, as you yourself suggested.


or primary grid and secondary/alternate grid?
I would tend to thnk of the base system as primary and an alternate measurement system as that. If they are interchangable (as in data is in utm so now the base is utm).


In cartography,

one type of grid is called a geographical or cartographic grid,

and the second type of grid is called a kilometer grid ...

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