11 June 2001



Federal Geographic Data Committee

Standard for a United States National Grid for Spatial Addressing

This standard is open for public review through June 22, 2001

The objectives of this standard are to provide the community with: 

  1. A presentation standard that enables the use of large-scale paper and digital  maps with Global Positioning System (GPS). Persons using different commercial brands or government produced maps will be able to communicate with each other because they will all use the same grid reference system.   In addition, the paper maps that use the U.S. National Grid will be easily used in conjunction with GPS receivers.
  2. An unambiguous, geodetically referenced, and mathematically uniform system for specifying a two-dimensional location.  It can be used to supplement conventional street addresses and it will provide a means for specifying location away from the road network. 
  3. A single system that can be taught to all citizens in the school system, and that can be used in any community across the nation. 
  4. A system that is seamless at political boundaries and that can be uniformly truncated at various levels of precision. 
  5. A basis for building a street and feature index database that can be accessed and used by any member of the community and used with any map product or device that uses the standard grid. 
This standard will define a United States National Grid (USNG). It is intended to serve as the  preferred grid system for general purpose mapping applications. It is intended for use in mapping at scales from approximately 1:5,000 to 1:1,000,000. Technically, it will be the same as the Military Grid Reference System (MGRS), taking advantage of that public domain system's use of the Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) grid and truncation and variable precision features. The standard will address other issues pertinent to civil mapping, such as recommended grid spacing. 

This standard is not intended to change how coordinates are stored in computers. It is not intended to replace the use of latitude and longitude on  nautical and aeronautical charts.  It is not intended to be used on maps at scales smaller than approximately 1:1,000,000. It is not intended to replace the State Plane Coordinate System (SPCS). SPCS will continue to be used where jurisdictions prefer it for property descriptions, mapping at scales larger than 1:5,000, or other more technical uses such as manual surveying. 

Persons interested in reviewing the Standard for a United States National Grid may download the public review draft in Microsoft Word format or in PDF format; also, download figures in PDF format to accompany the text.   All reviewers are strongly urged to use the Review Comment Template when preparing and submitting comments. 

Reviewers may send their comments to

For information about the FGDC standards process (including public review), please visit FGDC Standards or contact Ms. Julie Binder Maitra, FGDC Standards Coordinator, by phone at (703) 648-4627 or by E-mail at

Read the full Proposal in Microsoft Word format.

Find out more about the sponsoring FGDC Subcommittee or Working Group, FGDC Standards Working Group

Standard is at Step 8, Coordinate Public Review of the FGDC Standards Process.

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FGDC, USGS, 590 National Center, Reston, VA 20192
Updated: Friday, 11-May-2001 07:08:50 EDT
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