A bearing is the direction from one place to another, measured in degrees of angle with respect to an accepted reference line. This reference is the line to true north.

The round dial of a compass is divided just as cartographers divide the earth, into 360 degrees. The direction in degrees to each of the cardinal directions, going clockwise around the dial starting from the top, is: north, 0 degrees (the same as 360 degrees); east, 90 degrees; south, 180 degrees; and west, 270 degrees.

The compass is used for two basic tasks regarding bearings:

1. The compass is used to take bearings. (You can also say that the compass is used to measure bearings.) To take a bearing means to measure the direction from one point to another, either on a map or on the ground.

2. The compass is used to plot bearings. (You can also say that the compass is used to follow a bearing.) To plot a bearing means to set a specified bearing on the compass and then to plot out, or to follow, where that bearing points, either on a map or on the ground.

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