How to Convert Decimal Degrees Into Degrees, Minutes, Seconds

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You'll often find degrees given in decimal degrees (121.135°) instead of the more common degrees, minutes, and seconds (121°8'6"). However, it's easy to convert from a decimal to the sexagesimal system.

Here's How:

  1. The whole units of degrees will remain the same (i.e. in 121.135° longitude, start with 121°).
  2. Multiply the decimal by 60 (i.e. .135 * 60 = 8.1).
  3. The whole number becomes the minutes (8').
  4. Take the remaining decimal and multiply by 60. (i.e. .1 * 60 = 6).
  1. The resulting number becomes the seconds (6"). Seconds can remain as a decimal.
  2. Take your three sets of numbers and put them together, using the symbols for degrees (°), minutes ('), and seconds (") (i.e. 121°8'6" longitude)


  1. You can choose between decimal degrees and degrees, minutes, and seconds on your GPS.
  2. Once you have degrees, minutes, and seconds, it's often easier to find your location on most maps (especially topographic maps).
  3. Though there are 360 degrees in a circle, each degree is divided into sixty minutes and each minute is divided into sixty seconds.