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Public Land Survey System - a georeferencing system used in most, but not all states in the United States for land surveys.

The Public Land Survey System (PLSS) is a method of referencing land used in the United States. It divides the areas surveyed under it into townships (36 square mile units) identified by number, north and south of base lines and east and west of Principle Meridians (range). Townships are futher divided into sections (1 square mile), which are then divided into quarters, which can then be divided into halves or quarters again (Aliquot parts) or Lots (ie the East 100 acres of a given quarter).

An example of a PLSS notation (formatting and order may vary):

  • Full: The South half of the Northwest quarter of Section 10, Township 5 North, Range 68 West of the 6th Principle Meridian
  • Shorthand: S/2 NW/4 Sec 10 T5N R68W 6th P.M.

For more information, visit:

  1. Public Land Survey System Wikipedia entry
  2. National Atlas article
  3. Geocommunicator (BLM maintains official record for the PLSS, and GIS data is available here.)
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