Is there a difference between "N0°W" and "N0°E"?

These terms have been used in connection with Strike Lines.

The final bearing computed was exactly 0.

Will the direction East and West matter if one is chosen over the other or if "due North" or simply "North" is chosen instead?

  • Where have you seen the second and third terms used? – PolyGeo Sep 11 '17 at 23:02
  • @PolyGeo In this document. But I saw another page a few hours ago which I had closed and I could hardly find right now. usouthal.edu/geography/allison/GY403/… – JAT86 Sep 11 '17 at 23:30

To expound on this just a little bit.

Yes, there is no difference between any of those values, in most cases it is a matter of style and continuity as to which value you would use.

The Bearing values (N0°W or N0°E) denote which half of north based semi-circle a line segment resides in.

Land surveyors use bearings rather than azimuths to describe the direction of a line. There are four quadrants each containing 90 degrees in a bearing base system. N-E, S-E, S-W, N-W. Bearings have been used to simplify calculations and reduce errors when latitudes and departures (delta y and delta x) were calculated by hand.

NE = +latitude, +departure SE = -latitude, +departure SW = -latitude, -departure NW = +latitude, -departure

To convert a bearing to an azimuth:

The Northeast Quadrant Begins at 0, and values up to 90 degrees are added.

The Southeast Quadrant begins at 180 and the values up to 90 degrees are subtracted.

The Southwest Quadrant begins at 180 and the values up to 90 degrees are added.

The Northwest Quadrant begins 360 and the values up to 90 degrees are subtracted.

It would be considered bad form in many of the places I have worked to have a Bearing of N30°W for a line segment then a bearing for the next line segment that reads N0°E even though it would be correct. It would be considered better form to stay within the same quadrant for those two line segments.


As describe in slide 4 of the link in the question, these terms are equivalent. Which one you use is up to you.

In a GIS context, you'd normally expect to see this as 0 with reference to something - at least whether it is true or magnetic north. Note that there is no real reason 0 has to be any kind of north, and that east (i.e. the positive X axis on a Cartesian plane) or some local / engineering reference system is also a reasonable choice for some purposes.

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