Useful Map Tools for Downloading

These pages contain freely downloadable grids, roamers, and rulers for plotting UTM / MGRS and latitude longitude coordinates. You'll also find scale bars, area estimators, and compass roses here.

If you work with maps very often then you will probably find some of these tools useful. The tools you see here have evolved from doing ground search and rescue operations in the United States. Some are small pocket sized tools and others are more suited to working at a desk or table.

My interest in maps and related tools evolved from my work as search and rescue volunteer. I am interested in teaching people how to make the best use of their maps, compass, altimeter, and GPS unit. Part of that teaching process involves having some simple tools available. This web site has evolved to fill that need.

These tools are copyrighted. However, permission is granted to make and distribute copies on a not for profit basis. If you want to resell these tools, please check with me first!

All of the tools on this page can be downloaded in Adobe Acrobat (pdf) format. Adobe Acrobat is available for free, and runs on many different platforms. See below for information on downloading Acrobat Readers from Adobe.

The pdf format should preserve the size of the overlay when you print them. But, you should double check that your final printed version is the proper size! Some folks have reported problems with the smallest type on some of the tools being impossible to read. The best printed results will come from a high resolution Postscript printer.

How to make overlays from these files

To produce usable overlays you need to print directly onto or copy onto clear transparency film. Toner based printers and copiers will produce overlays that are prone to having the toner scratched off. Some folks have reported success laminating the transparency film to protect the image. The smaller overlays are available as one per page or with as many as will fit on a page. The clear stuff is expensive, so we put as many overlays as we can on each sheet.

Some of these tools are for sale printed on sturdy plastic cards

Many people find that overlays copied onto transparency fill are too flimsy; the toner wears off quickly under field conditions. Other folks don't have the stuff to print a nice crisp copy of the PDF files.

To find out which tools are available visit the Map Tools Products page.

If the scale you need isn't here, follow these instructions to create your own scale

These tools were designed using Adobe Illustrator on a Macintosh. The PDF files can be opened and edited in Illustrator running either on a Mac or Windows platform.

Maps come in all different scales. We have tried to include tools that work with the scales we use most frequently in ground search and rescue work here in the US. You may find that you need other scales. To scale an existing map tool to a different scale you should select a tool that is close to the scale you need, and then determine how much to scale it by. For example to turn a tool intended for a 1:24,000 scale map into one that would work with a 1:25,000 scale map.

24,000 / 25,000 * 100 = 96%

You can use Adobe Illustrator, the Acrobat Reader, your printer software, or a photocopier to print at 96% of original scale. Always double check your results against the map to make sure you get the correct results.

Get Acrobat to view and print these PDF files.

UTM Coordinate Tools

Estimating the size of an area

Scales & Rules

Latitude & Longitude Tools

Protractors & Compass Roses