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4.2. Coordinate formats

What is GPS?

The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a network of satellites orbiting the Earth and  broadcasting a radio signal. GPS devices like smartphones and GPS receivers use coordinates to define each specific location point for navigation.

Coordinate formats

There are a lot of different coordinate formats. The following four formats all show the location of Geocaching HQ. When you submit your cache, you can use any of these four formats — but make sure you include exact spacing and decimal points! Degree, minute, and second symbols are optional.

Format name Format Coordinates Info
Degrees, Decimal Minutes (DDM) HDD MM.mmm  N 47° 38.938
W 122° 20.887
Default format on
Decimal Degrees (DD) DD.ddddd 47.64896
Often used in web mapping applications.
Decimal Degrees (HDD) HDD.ddddd N 47.64896
W 122.34811
Similar to DD but includes hemisphere (N/S/E/W).
Degrees, Minutes, Decimal Seconds (DMS) HDD MM N 47°38’ 56.28”
W 122°20’53.22”
Used in nautical navigation.
Note: Without Decimal Seconds, this format is not accurate enough to locate a geocache!

Tip: Don’t use the iPhone compass app to record coordinates for your hide. The iPhone compass app uses the DMS format without the decimal portion of the seconds. This format is not accurate and can cover an area of up to 1000 square feet (100 square meters). Learn how to use the Geocaching® app to record your coordinates.

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