How to measure a straight line distance using a topo map

How to Measure a Straight Line Distance Using a Topo Map

A topographic map is a two-dimensional map that represents a three-dimensional area using contour lines to indicate elevation of the earth\u2019s surface. The first means of measuring distance on a topographical map, or any map, is the straight line distance, which indicates a straight distance \u201cas the crow flies.\u201d This measurement is taken before calculating the slope of the land or other features that would impact the total travel distance. Learn how to measure this basic straight line distance successfully.

Method One of Three:
Finding Distance Using the Bar Scale

Lay a piece of paper down on the map and mark it.\u00a0Place a straight edge of a piece of paper onto your map. Line up the edge with both the first (\u201cpoint A\u201d) and second (\u201cpoint B\u201d) points you want to measure the distance between, then make a tick mark on the paper where each point is.[1]

Make sure your piece of paper is long enough to make your 2 tick marks. Note that this method works better for shorter line distances.
2

Hold your measurement up to the bar scale.\u00a0Locate the bar scale on your topographic map, which is typically found in the lower left. Place your piece of paper with the 2 tick marks against the bar scale to begin to read the distance indicated. Note first the ratio that’s represented by the bar scale. This indicates that 1 unit of measurement on the map equals a certain number of units on the ground.

For instance, a common topo map might have a 1:100,000 scale, where 1 centimeter equals 1 kilometer.[2]

The bar scale may also contain a primary scale, which shows whole units increasing from 0, left to right. There’s also an extension scale, which shows fractions of a unit increasing from 0, right to left.[3]

Use this method if you have a short distance between your tick marks that easily fits within the given bar scale.

Hold the edge of the paper still on the map and mark as accurately as possible where the paper lines up to your 2 points.

3.Interpret the largest portion of distance from the primary scale.\u00a0Align the tick mark on the right side of your paper edge with a whole number in the primary scale of the bar scale. The left tick mark should fall somewhere within the extension scale.

Where you line up the right tick mark on the primary scale depends on what it takes to fit the left tick mark onto the extension scale. Keep the right tick mark on a whole number.

The whole number the right tick mark is on indicates that your ground distance is at least X-many meters\/kilometers\/miles as the scale indicates for that number. You’ll find the rest of the distance more precisely with the extension scale.

Hope it will help you lot.
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National Map Reading Week

Measuring distance is a key tool in map reading and is especially useful for hikers and cyclists who want to measure how far they have travelled or how far they wish to go. Learn how to easily measure distance with our quick and simple guide.

Step 1: Find your scale

First of all, you have to know your scale. If you understand the map scale number that’s great, but if you find that tricky you can still measure distances accurately.

At the bottom of each map there’s a scale that indicates the distance on the map. When you measure a distance on the map, just compare it to the scale, and it will instantly tell you the real world distance.

Example of a scale from an OS Explorer 1: 25 000 map

Step 2: Measuring the distance

You can measure straight line distances on a map with a ruler – there’s often one included on the side of your compass. However, if you use the technique above, you can use almost anything – your pencil, fingers or a twig – to get a distance and compare it to the map scale. No maths required!

This does have one big drawback – you can only measure straight lines, which are not that common outside cities. While you could take lots of small measurements and add them up, there’s an easier way using just a bit of plain old string. Try using the lanyard from your compass or a spare shoelace if you don’t have a handy bit of string in your pocket.

Lay the string out along the route. You may need to use some extra fingers to pin it in place. Once you have covered the route, carefully mark the string (or just hold it in the right place) and compare it to your map scale.

Place the string on your map and then measure the string against the scale

Step 3: Calculating distance from the scale

Sometimes you can’t just compare to a printed map scale. You might be using a map with no printed scale, or you’ve folded your map up into the map case and can’t get to it easily. If you have your handy ruler you can still calculate distance.

Measure your distance using a ruler or string as above. If you used a bit of string, measure the string to get a distance in cm.

Now, you need to multiply that distance by the map scale, and convert that to meters or kilometres.

Examples:

1: 8.5cm measured on a 1: 25 000 OS Explorer map

Multiply distance by scale
8.5cm x 25,000 =
212,500 cm
Convert to meters
212,500 / 100 =
2,125 m
Convert to km:
2,125 / 1,000 =
2.125 km

2: 12.8cm measured on a 1: 50 000 OS Landranger map

Multiply distance by scale
12.8cm x 50,000 =
640,000 cm
Convert to meters
640,000 / 100 =
6,400 m
Convert to km:
6,400 / 1,000 =
6.4 km

Since you multiply and then divide to convert to km, you can simplify your maths into a single smaller calculation:

1: 25 000 – quarter the cm to calculate km
1: 50 000 – half the cm to give km

As doing these without a calculator can occasionally be tricky, it’s a good idea to be able to do an approximation.

For the 1: 25 000 map, the scale also reads ‘4cm to 1km’. So my 8.5cm is 2km, plus 1/8km, or 0.125, but even if I’d rounded that to 2km and ‘a little bit’, that would probably be close enough for most purposes.

For the 1: 50 000 map, the scale is ‘2cm to 1 km’. My 12.8 cm is 6km plus just under half.

IMPORTANT: If you are navigating in poor visibility or in in open country with few landmarks, you may want to be more accurate and calculate distances exactly.

Remember that the grid lines on a 1:25 000 scale map are 1km apart. A quick way of estimating distance is to count each square you cross in a straight line. If going diagonally the distance across the grid square is about 1½km.

Bonus: Other ways to measure map distance

You can also work out distances on a map using a romer or map measurer.

A romer is a ruler that’s scaled with a specific map scale. Instead of reading in cm and converting, you can read the distance directly. Just ensure that you use a romer with the same scale as the map you are using – the OS range of compasses has the correct scales for our most popular 1: 25 000 OS Explorer and 1: 50 000 OS Landranger maps.

A map measurer is a mechanical or electronic tool with a small wheel that you run over the map. You can then read off the converted distance. Again, check the manual to make sure you are using the correct scale conversions.

Check out our Pathfinder guide titled Navigation Skills for Walkers including map reading, compass and GPS.

CONDITIONS
Given a standard 1:50,000 military map, a strip of paper or a straightedge, and a pencil.

STANDARDS
1. Determine the straight-line distance, in meters, between two points with no more than 5 percent error.

2. Determine the road (curved-line) distance, in meters, between two points with no more than 10 percent error.

TRAINING AND EVALUATION
Training Information Outline
Note: Soldiers can use their maps to measure the distance between two places. The maps are drawn to scale. This means that a certain distance on a map equals a certain distance on the earth. The scale is printed at the bottom and top of each map (Scale 1:50,000). This means that 1 inch on the map equals 50,000 inches on the ground. To change map distance to miles, meters, or yards, use the bar scales at the bottom of the map (Figure 5-29).

Figure 5-29. Bar scales.

How to measure a straight line distance using a topo map

Figure 5-30. Measurement of distance.

How to measure a straight line distance using a topo map

a. Take a ruler or the edge of a piece of paper and mark on it the straight-line distance between your two points (Figure 5-30).

b. Then, put the ruler or the paper just under one of the bar scales and read the ground distance in miles, meters, or yards. The bar scale in Figure 5-31 shows a ground distance of 1,500 meters.

Figure 5-31. Determination of distance.

How to measure a straight line distance using a topo map

c. Suppose you want to find the distance between A and B around a curve in a road. Take a strip of paper, make a small tick mark on it, and line up the tick mark with point A. Align the paper with the road edge until you come to the curve, make another mark on the paper and on the map, and then pivot the paper so that it continues to follow the road edge. Keep repeating this until you get to B. Always follow the road edge with your paper. Make a mark on your paper where it hits B, and then go to the bar scales to get the distance (Figure 5-32).

2. Normally, you will be required to measure distance in meters, and you may receive a problem that goes off the bar scale. The meter bar scale allows you to measure distances up to 5,000 meters. If you have to measure distances greater than 5,000 meters, follow this procedure:

a. Place your starting point on the paper under the zero on the bar scale. Measure off 4,000 meters and place a new tick mark at the point on your paper.

How to measure a straight line distance using a topo map

Figure 5-32. Map distance 1,800 meters.

Evaluation Guide:
Measure Distance on a Map
Performance Measures

1. Measure the straight-line distance on the map using the straightedge.

2. Place the paper under the meter bar scale.

3. Determine the distance with no more than 5 percent error.

4. Measure the curved-line distance using the strip of paper.

5. Place the paper under the meter bar scale.

6. Determine the distance with no more than 10 percent error.

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National Map Reading Week

Measuring distance is a key tool in map reading and is especially useful for hikers and cyclists who want to measure how far they have travelled or how far they wish to go. Learn how to easily measure distance with our quick and simple guide.

Step 1: Find your scale

First of all, you have to know your scale. If you understand the map scale number that’s great, but if you find that tricky you can still measure distances accurately.

At the bottom of each map there’s a scale that indicates the distance on the map. When you measure a distance on the map, just compare it to the scale, and it will instantly tell you the real world distance.

Example of a scale from an OS Explorer 1: 25 000 map

Step 2: Measuring the distance

You can measure straight line distances on a map with a ruler – there’s often one included on the side of your compass. However, if you use the technique above, you can use almost anything – your pencil, fingers or a twig – to get a distance and compare it to the map scale. No maths required!

This does have one big drawback – you can only measure straight lines, which are not that common outside cities. While you could take lots of small measurements and add them up, there’s an easier way using just a bit of plain old string. Try using the lanyard from your compass or a spare shoelace if you don’t have a handy bit of string in your pocket.

Lay the string out along the route. You may need to use some extra fingers to pin it in place. Once you have covered the route, carefully mark the string (or just hold it in the right place) and compare it to your map scale.

Place the string on your map and then measure the string against the scale

Step 3: Calculating distance from the scale

Sometimes you can’t just compare to a printed map scale. You might be using a map with no printed scale, or you’ve folded your map up into the map case and can’t get to it easily. If you have your handy ruler you can still calculate distance.

Measure your distance using a ruler or string as above. If you used a bit of string, measure the string to get a distance in cm.

Now, you need to multiply that distance by the map scale, and convert that to meters or kilometres.

Examples:

1: 8.5cm measured on a 1: 25 000 OS Explorer map

Multiply distance by scale
8.5cm x 25,000 =
212,500 cm
Convert to meters
212,500 / 100 =
2,125 m
Convert to km:
2,125 / 1,000 =
2.125 km

2: 12.8cm measured on a 1: 50 000 OS Landranger map

Multiply distance by scale
12.8cm x 50,000 =
640,000 cm
Convert to meters
640,000 / 100 =
6,400 m
Convert to km:
6,400 / 1,000 =
6.4 km

Since you multiply and then divide to convert to km, you can simplify your maths into a single smaller calculation:

1: 25 000 – quarter the cm to calculate km
1: 50 000 – half the cm to give km

As doing these without a calculator can occasionally be tricky, it’s a good idea to be able to do an approximation.

For the 1: 25 000 map, the scale also reads ‘4cm to 1km’. So my 8.5cm is 2km, plus 1/8km, or 0.125, but even if I’d rounded that to 2km and ‘a little bit’, that would probably be close enough for most purposes.

For the 1: 50 000 map, the scale is ‘2cm to 1 km’. My 12.8 cm is 6km plus just under half.

IMPORTANT: If you are navigating in poor visibility or in in open country with few landmarks, you may want to be more accurate and calculate distances exactly.

Remember that the grid lines on a 1:25 000 scale map are 1km apart. A quick way of estimating distance is to count each square you cross in a straight line. If going diagonally the distance across the grid square is about 1½km.

Bonus: Other ways to measure map distance

You can also work out distances on a map using a romer or map measurer.

A romer is a ruler that’s scaled with a specific map scale. Instead of reading in cm and converting, you can read the distance directly. Just ensure that you use a romer with the same scale as the map you are using – the OS range of compasses has the correct scales for our most popular 1: 25 000 OS Explorer and 1: 50 000 OS Landranger maps.

A map measurer is a mechanical or electronic tool with a small wheel that you run over the map. You can then read off the converted distance. Again, check the manual to make sure you are using the correct scale conversions.

Check out our Pathfinder guide titled Navigation Skills for Walkers including map reading, compass and GPS.

In addition to supplying highway mileage, Google can calculate the shortest distance between two locations.

How to measure a straight line distance using a topo map

How to measure a straight line distance using a topo map

Q. Google Maps gives the mileage between places based on driving directions on the available highways, but is there a way to calculate the distance between two towns “as the crow flies”?

A. The driving directions that Google offers between locations do factor in the available roads, as well as traffic conditions, detours and other situations that may take you out of your way. While this is helpful for trip planning and navigation, Google Maps also includes a tool to simply measure distances between points in a straight line.

When using Google Maps in a desktop web browser, right-click the city or starting point you want to use and select “Measure distance” from the menu. Next, click the second point on the map to see the direct distance in miles and kilometers displayed in a small box at the bottom of the window.

Click elsewhere on the map to add more points to measure, or click an added point to delete it. You can move measurement points by dragging them on the map. When you have finished, click the X in the box at the bottom of the screen.

In the Google Maps app for Android and iOS, find your starting point and press your finger on the screen until a red map pin appears. The address or name of the location is shown at the bottom of the screen, so tap it and scroll down to select “Measure distance.” Use your finger to slide the map — and a black targeting circle — to your second point so the circle is over the location. Tap the Add (+) button to link it to your first point. The direct mileage total is shown at the bottom of the screen.

You can add more points to the original location by repeating the process. Tap the Undo button to remove a point at the top of the screen, or go to the three-dot More menu and choose Clear to remove them all.

On iPhone & Android Open up the Google Maps app, and then find the location you want to measure. Tap and hold the starting point where you want the distance measurement to begin. A dropped pin appears at that point. Tap the “Measure Distance” option.

Subsequently, question is, how do you measure straight line distance on a map? Lay a piece of paper down on the map and mark it. Place a straight edge of a piece of paper onto your map. Line up the edge with both the first (“point A”) and second (“point B”) points you want to measure the distance between, then make a tick mark on the paper where each point is.

People also ask, can Google Maps track my walk?

How to track my walking distanceGoogle Maps Community. You can do that with Google Maps by setting a walking direction and then you can view the result in Timeline. You can do that with Google Maps by setting a walking direction and then you can view the result in Timeline.

How do you measure height on Google Maps?

Take and save a measurement

  1. Open Google Earth Pro.
  2. Go to a spot on the globe.
  3. In the menu bar, click Tools.
  4. In the bottom left, select Mouse Navigation.
  5. Click the tab for what you want to measure.
  6. On the map, hover over a spot and click a starting point for your measurement.

Measure Straight line distance in Google Map between two points. Straight line distance can be calculated with Haversine distance formula or Great circle distance formula. Google Map, a web mapping service application and technology, which provides and enrich a common user experience for free, like, Route planner for traveling by foot, car or public transportation with estimated travel time, Congestion description on current time or with prediction time, measure distance from one place to other either straight or route wise, see near by location and many more. You can easily calculate straight line distance measurement, by just following simple steps.

Measure Straight line distance in Google Map:

Note: Google provides two different version of map as, Classic Google Map (now with new Google Map Lite mode version) and a newly customized Google map. For both version, different steps are to followed to calculate distance. Below are the methods for both.

New Google Map: Measure Straight line distance:

1.) Open Google Map in your browser.
2.) Right click, from your starting point on Map, and select Measure Distance options.
3.) Click on destination point to which you want to measure distance. Done.

4.) Under the search box, see the calculated distance, as shown below in the figure.

How to switch between Google classic map and Google new map. Now switch to Lite Mode Google Map version.

Classic Google Map: Measure Straight line distance:

1.) Open Google map in your browser, and login with your Google all in one account.
2.) Click on Map lab link, appearing just left bottom panel.
3.) Enable “Distance Measurement tool”, and save changes.

4.) Click on ruler icon which appear at the lower left hand corner of map.
5.) Click on your start point and the end point, this will give your straight line measurement, shown in the left panel as shown.

Google map provides many feature, you can explore many other features as:

  • Get the scheduled route planner with estimate time
  • Get current traffic and traffic prediction near you or at other place.
  • Create KML file from Google map
  • Upload KML file on Google map
  • Set and save your favorite location
  • Get nearby place with keyword search on Google map.
  • Find your location history

Hope this article helped you, to measure straight line distance, between two points. Do comment, below with your experience to calculate distance on Google Map.

How to measure a straight line distance using a topo map

Straight Line

Measuring distance on a map is critical to be able to determine how far you must travel between points or locations. You can measure straight line distance and curved distance (roads).

The most accurate method for measuring straight line distance on a map is to line up a straight edge of a piece of paper (or 3×5 card) and mark your start and end point on the paper. Then match up the paper with the appropriate bar scale on the bottom of the map. Ensure you use the bar scale for meters!
Another method for measuring straight line distance is to mark the start and end points on a sheet of paper and use the 1/50,000 meter coordinate scale triangle inside your protractor to measure the straight line distance.

Curved Distance

Measuring curved distance is important when travelling mounted. The most accurate way to measure road distance is to use the straight edge of a sheet of paper and place a mark at your starting point. Place another mark on the paper at the first curve in the road you come to. Rotate the blank paper to follow the road, placing a tick mark at each curve. Once you have completed this, simply measure the total distance between your first and last tick mark on the sheet of paper using your bar scale.

Bar Scales

The bar scales will be located at the bottom of the map. Generally any distance on paper of 1 inch equals 1,000 meters. Most maps have 4 different bar scales in meters, statue miles, yards, and nautical miles. For all dismounted movements you will want to use the meter bar scale. Sometimes for mounted movements you might want to use the miles bar chart, particularly if your vehicle has an odometer.

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