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How to Use an Informal Coordinate System

You’ll need to understand how to read map coordinates to do many things like reading a map’s grid or finding a friend’s new address in a straight directory.

Map coordinates tell us the exact location of something, and they rely on a grid like this one.

The grid has two main parts – the columns, which are these lines running down the grid, and the rows, which are these lines running across the grid.

In a map coordinate system like this one, there’s one very important rule. We always read the columns first and the rows second. That way, everyone is reading the grid the same way, and no one gets their coordinates mixed up.

But how do we tell each column and row apart when we’re trying to find something? Well, we label them. Our columns will have letters, and our rows will have numbers. Remember to always start in the top left corner when labeling your grid. Put your labels directly above the middle of the column and directly left of the middle of each row, so it’ll be easy to see which letter and which number belong to each square…letters along here horizontally, and numbers vertically down here. It’s very easy now to read that this top left square is A1.

Let’s put some objects on our grid and see if we can find an exact location for them. Count across with me to see which column this star is sitting on. A,B,C…column C. And which row? 1,2… So the star is at column C and row 2. Now we write this coordinate like this – C,2. Always write the letter first, then a comma, to show that they’re separate, and then the number.

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