How to type bearing & distance lines in autocad

Written by ryan crooks
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How to type bearing & distance lines in autocad
Use the "@" and "<" signs to provide distance and bearing, respectively, when typing commands in AutoCAD to create a survey. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

A survey is a legal document that precisely describes a property or region. So, it is extremely important to create accurate drawings using precise commands in AutoCAD. A survey boundary line requires a distance and a bearing, or a line angle relative to a point on the compass. With any version of AutoCAD, type a dimension and bearing in the command line to have an accurate line, instead of adding error by using solely your mouse.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Open AutoCAD and open a drawing file by clicking "Open" in the "File" menu, and selecting the drawing. Otherwise, click "New" under "File" to create a new drawing.

  2. 2

    Type "Units" in the command line and adjust the "Type" in both the "Length" field and the "Angle" field on the "Drawing Units" window. Surveyors in the United States will use either the "Architectural" or "Decimal" "Length Type," along with "Surveyor's Units" in the "Angle Type." Click "OK."

  3. 3

    Type "Line" in the command line and click your mouse in the location of the line's first endpoint.

  4. 4

    Type the distance and bearing of your line by typing the second endpoint as "@d<a," where "@" states the distance is relative to the first point, "d" is the distance of the length of the line, "<" denotes the line having a bearing angle, and "a" is the angular dimension of the bearing angle. For example, a surveyor entering "@210.34'<S67d34'25"W" for the second endpoint states the line is 210.34 feet long at a bearing angle: 67 degrees 34 minutes 25 seconds west of south.

Tips and warnings

  • "Decimal Degrees," "Grads" and "Radians" in the "Angle Type" will default to "East," or the positive "X" axis as "0," unless you change the "Base Angle Directions" setting in the "Drawing Units" window. "Surveyor's Units" is not affected by the "Base Angle Directions" setting, as it provides a bearing angle relative to a compass.

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