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Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology
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3/25/2017
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How to interpret the GWIC location information View an Illustration

Legal subdivision deeds and other documents often contain language that describes a parcel of land. The parcel is described beginning with the smallest quarter of a section and ends with the township and range that the section is in. Thus in a legal document, a 40-acre parcel might be described as follows:

"I am in a parcel of land located in the NW 1/4 of the NE 1/4 of Section 15, Township 12 North, Range 27 East."

ABCD System:
To make location descriptions more concise and easier to use within our database the same legal subdivision location system was modified. The "ABCD" system tells you "how to find" a point or a parcel of land. The location description begins with the township and range, followed by the section. The section is divided into quarters based as follows:

     All NE 1/4's = A,
     All NW 1/4's = B,
     All SW 1/4's = C,
     All SE 1/4's = D

The legal subdivision description shown above would be written as:

    Township 12 N, Range 27 E, Section 15, AB

The largest quarter section (160-acre tract) is given first, followed by the 40-, 10-, 2.5-acre tracts and so on until a specific point is reached. The "ABCD" description tells you "how to find" parcels or objects map because it consistently narrows down or focuses on the object.

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