How to Calculate an Angle From a Bearing

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In mathematics, the bearing is an angle measured in degrees in a clockwise direction from the north line. This means that the angle's vertices are one line pointing north and another pointing to your point of interest. Calculating an angle from a bearing is a straightforward process; all you need is a compass and a protractor. However, if you are using a map depicting the cardinal directions, you can omit the compass. Success in this task depends on your knowledge of using the compass and the protractor appropriately.

    Place the compass on a steady surface. Allow the magnetic needle to stabilize and gently rotate the compass until the needle points to the north. Form a line parallel to the needle on a paper with the help of a ruler.

    Form a line parallel to the needle on a paper with the help of a ruler. If you are using a map, draw a line beginning from your spot and pointing north with a pencil. This is the first vertex of your angle.

    Draw the second vertex, starting from the bottom end of the first line and pointing towards your point of interest.

    Place the middle point of the protractor's flat side -- easily distinguishable on every protractor -- right on the angle. Align the straight line of the protractor on the north-pointing vertex and measure the angle.


    • When measuring bearings, angles of less than 100 must have one or two zeros in front, to give a three-figure number. For example, the bearing of a point can be 045 degrees or 008 degrees.


    • Remember that the bearing is the angle measured clockwise. This means that if you have a vertex pointing west, this means your angle is reflex -- greater than 180 degrees.


About the Author

Tasos Vossos has been a professional journalist since 2008. He has previously worked as a staff writer for "Eleftheros Tipos," a leading newspaper of Greece, and is currently a London-based sports reporter for Perform Sports Media in the United Kingdom. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in communication and media from the University of Athens.

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