Compass & Map Directions

A compass measures directions 360° around a circle as bearings. But a compass can be simplified to 4, 8, or 16 directions, the

  • four cardinal points: North, South, East, West;

  • four inter-cardinal points: NE, SE, SW, NW;

  • eight half-wind points: NNE, ENE, ESE, SSE, SSW, WSW, WNW, NNW

Part of the fun of learning Directions, is coming up with a mnemonic to remember their order clockwise around the compass rose, such as:

Never Eat Shredded Wheat - which is unfortunate as many of us happily eat Shredded Wheat every day! So, how about:

Never Eat Soggy Worms or Never Enter Stinky Washrooms

If you have a favourite mnemonic for remembering the directions, please share it with us!

16 Points of a Compass
(Darron Gedge 1:44)

Features of a Compass
(OS 1:56)

Basic Compass Use
(MRCAParks 3:02)

Advanced Compass Use
(REI 7:15)

Blank Compass Rose


A. Using the blank compass:

  1. Label the 4 cardinal and 4 inter-cardinal directions.

  2. Label the 8 half-wind directions.

B. Use this detailed world map to determine the answer for each. For a), b) and f), highlight the correct answer.

    1. Which is further north: Ottawa or London, England? Ottawa or Paris, France? Ottawa or Moscow, Russia? Ottawa or Beijing? Ottawa or Rome. Italy?

    2. Which is further south: Ontario’s most southerly point or the south coast of France?

    3. Name the country furthest south in South America →

    4. Name the country furthest north in Africa →

    5. Name the country furthest west in mainland Europe →

    6. Which is further west: Ottawa or Miami? (Watch out for the curve!)

Use your compass rose and the detailed world map to determine the direction you are travelling when flying between each of the locations below.

  1. from Ottawa to Lisbon →

  2. from Ottawa to Hawaii →

  3. from Ottawa to Iceland →

  4. from Moscow, Russia to Ottawa →

  5. from Sao Paulo, Brazil to Ottawa →

  6. from Ottawa to Toronto →