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When determining boundaries for a section of owned ground, the written legal description of the borders can vary in format and wording. 

With this page I will attempt to make sense of some of the formats commonly used. 

1. Township-Range +  Fractional Designation aka Block Survey aka Rectangle Block Survey 

  • Section 1 All - This one is probably the most basic description and the easiest to map. It is simply stating that that property is the entire section 24 of the Township and Range given previously. 

  • Section 2 S1/2 - This is simply stating that it is the south half of that particular section 13

  • Section 3 S1/2NE1/4 - When there is a  back to back direction and fraction with no comma in between them, it is read the South Half of the Northeast quarter of section 3

  • Section 4 W1/2W1/2E1/2NE1/4 - This is an expansion on the previous example. It is read the west half or the west half of the east half of the North east quarter.

The easiest way to decipher and map these is from back to front. The last number is the largest area excluding the section itself and the one to start identifying, North east quarter. A grid is very useful at identifying the initial quarter divisions. An easy way to do this is to use the Draw Line Tool and draw 2 lines from corner to corner. The center would be the intersecting point.

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Then using the draw line tool again, mark out vertical and horizontal divisions by starting in the corner by measuring out half of the distance and draw the line. Repeat this all the way around.

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Then draw lines connecting those middle points.

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Now you can easily draw out the NE quarter using the draw field tool.

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The next step after finding the North East corner would be the East half of that quarter. Using the Split Field Drawing Tool, you can split the field in half to get the proper area. Remember you can delete the unwanted sides of the split by actively selecting that side (turn blue) and clicking the delete key on the keyboard.
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After that you can use the split field again to find the West half of the previous step.

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Then again using the split field, identify the "West half" of that west half previously determined.

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2. Atypical section size

To make up for the earth being round, not all sections are 1 mile by 1 mile. Sometimes in these situations, lots can be used to describe portions of the land. 

Lots: Since lots are not a standard size, another map or description would be needed to help determine the lot size and location. 

In order to map these lots in Surety, another document -usually another map- is needed.(hand-drawn or otherwise)

3. Description of an otherwise square section broken up by a road, railway, or a body of water. 

  • Example would be something like this. 

 Township 16 N Range 18 E M.P.M. Fergus County Montana Section 15: All those portions of the S1/2NW1/4, of N1/2SW1/4 
and of SE1/4SSW1/4 lying East of the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railway Company's right of way and easterly and 
southerly of the Baxter Townsite Company acreage which adjourns said right of way on the East excepting therefrom that 
part of the E1/2SW1/4 lying East of State Highway No. 191

Start by searching for Section 15 T 16N and R18E to find the section. 

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I like to make it easier to draw out the quarter sections by making a basic grid to work off of using the draw line tool. I measure the entire section height and width and then half it and draw my lines N to S and E to W 

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Draw out the NW quarter and then find the south 1/2 of it. 

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Draw out the N1/2SW1/4
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Then draw out the SE1/4SSW1/4

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Since the description calls for everything in these areas east of the railroad & Highway that is next to it, we can merge all our sections together in order to make it easier to split out the unwanted area with the Split Field Tool. Merge the 3 borders together as one with the Merge Fields Tool

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Using the Split Field Drawing Tool draw a split line along the east of the Highway 191.
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Then delete the west half of the split by left clicking in it with a drawing tool and clicking delete on your keyboard.
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This will leave you with just the desired boundary.
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4. Metes-and-Bounds (courses-and-distances): Describes distances (metes) between different monuments(bounds). Usually done using feet as the measurement unit, Metes and Bounds is a way of describing the length between each point the border changes direction. It can also contain curves within the description.

Beginning at the Northeast corner of the Southeast Quarter of Section 29, Township 11 South, Range 8 East, Itawamba County,
Mississippi, and run thence South 330 ft to the point of beginning; thence run South 247.5 ft; thence run West 2640 ft; 
hence run North 247.5ft; thence run East 2640 ft to the point of beginning, containing fifteen (15) acres, more or less, and 
being located in the Northeast Quarter of the Southeast Quarter of Section 29, Township 11 South, Range 8 East, of Itawamba
County, Mississippi.

If one were to draw out this boundary using the available drawing tools in Surety then the best option would be to use the Draw field and draw line tools.

If you have a Surety Pro subscription then you can use the Plot Deed Drawing Tool and have the program draw out the boundaries for you.

We need to first start by finding the Northeast corner of the southeast quarter. We can accomplish this easily by measuring out the total length of the eastern boundary of the section 29 and drawing a line half of that width with the line tool (watch the current length measurement in the right panel). Sections are usually 1 mile x 1 mile so our measurement should be close to 2640ft (1/2 a mile).

Thence south 330ft to the point of beginning.
With the line tool draw a line from the midline point,  straight south 330 ft with the draw line tool since it is not part of the border. 

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Tip: If it is necessary to go due south, north, east or west, you can use the latitude & longitude as reference points to stay straight.

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Thence run south 247.5 ft;
Since this is the beginning of our actual property Now use the Draw Field tool and click on the point of the previous line you stopped at. Move your mouse south along the gray section line until current length reads approx. 247.5ft. Tip:By using your scroll wheel on the mouse you can zoom in and be more precise. 

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thence run West 2640 ft
Next head due west with the line until your current length is 2640 ft. 

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hence run North 247.5ft
Then the next segment move Due North 247.5ft

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thence run East 2640 ft to the point of beginning
Since it is saying, return to the point of beginning, we can just click on the beginning point to close the border and finish the parcel.

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If drawn accurately, the acres will be very close.

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Common Terms of Measurement

Linear Measure:
1 link = 7.92 inches
1 rod = 25 links = 16.5 feet
1 chain = 4 rods = 66 feet
1 furlong = 10 chains = 40 rods = 660 feet
1 mile = 8 furlongs = 80 chains = 320 rods = 5,280 feet 
 
Square Measure:
1 square rod = 272¼ square feet (30¼ square yards)
1 square chain = 4,356 square feet
1 acre = 43,560 square feet
1 square mile = 640 acres (one section)
1 township x 1 range  = 36 square miles

If you are running into something that you can't seem to be able to map, feel free to contact us and we will do our very best to make sense of it. or 701-746-8580.

See Also:






  Name Size
- 1easthalf.jpg 63.49 KB
- 1easthalf1.jpg 76.80 KB
- 1westhalf2.jpg 81.18 KB
- 1westhalf3.jpg 60.44 KB
- centerpoint.jpg 60.25 KB
- DividedSection.jpg 28.41 KB
- final.jpg 81.80 KB
- grid2.png 41.42 KB
- grid3.jpg 75.07 KB
- latlongtip.jpg 28.32 KB
- Legal01.png 675.20 KB
- Legal02.jpg 59.40 KB
- Legal03.jpg 50.95 KB
- Legal04.jpg 26.92 KB
- Legal05.jpg 41.94 KB
- Legal06.jpg 35.84 KB
- merge.jpg 156.23 KB
- NhalfSWqtr.jpg 119.54 KB
- searchMT.png 7.62 KB
- SEqtrSWqtr.jpg 116.71 KB
- ShalfNWqtr.png 39.40 KB
- simple grid.png 38.94 KB
- split1.jpg 109.87 KB
- split2.jpg 91.35 KB