How to make a compass rose

Updated April 11, 2017

A compass rose is a decorative tool that is usually displayed on a map corner to indicate direction. Compass roses range from simple, non-ornate drawings to fancy, intricate designs. Creating a compass rose is a good way to teach children about directions. Making your own rose is easy and you can decorate it any way you choose. Practice making a few compass roses on a piece of paper before you draw one on your map.

Locate the area on the map where you want to draw the compass rose.

Orient the map so that north is pointing opposite to you. It will appear to be pointing towards the top of the paper.

Create a circle by tracing around a circular object. Place a dot in the centre of the circle. Draw a small "X" through the dot.

Draw a cross with equal-length lines through the dot in the circle. Use your ruler to measure the length and keep the line straight. Extend the lines a few centimetres beyond the circle.

Label the ends of the lines with abbreviations for north (N), south (S), east (E) and west (W).

Draw a straight line from the end of the compass point to the X in the circle. Do this for each direction.

Decorate your compass rose any way you like. You can draw inside the circle, use colours to shade the circle or make each line a different colour.


Look at examples of compass roses on the Internet to give you ideas.

Things You'll Need

  • Map
  • Pencil, pens, coloured pencils
  • Ruler
  • Small, traceable circle
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About the Author

Risa Edwards is a librarian who works for a small private university. She has a degree in geology and library science, but is interested in topics from across many disciplines. Edwards enjoys using her research skills to help others as well as continuing to broaden her own knowledge.