Intermediate directions is a term used to define the 4 points on a compass, which stand for north-west, north-east, south-east, and south-west. These parameters are widely used in geography, cartography, and other related sciences.


There are two types of directions utilized in geography. Everyone is familiar with North, South, East, and West. These are the cardinal directions, associated with the position of the Earth’s poles as well as the direction of its rotation. The magnetic arrow of a compass, for example, always points to the North, allowing to generate cardinal directions from its position. Intermediate vectors, on the other hand, were created without specific attachment to any planetary or magnetic landmarks; they derive their position from cardinal directions. North-west is 45 degrees away from northern and western vectors, and the same principle is applied to all other intermediate directions. To illustrate the point better, imagine a watch. North would be at 12 o’clock, south – at 6 o’clock, west – at 9 o’clock, and east – at 3 o’clock. Respectively, north-west would be at 10:30, north-east – at 13:30, south-east – at 16:30, and south-west – at 19:30. These positions used to better orientate on a map. A compass rose typically features not only the intermediate and cardinal directions, but also the inter-intermediate ones, which represent directions between both vectors. All of these measures are particularly important in cartography, as they enable explorers to systematically determine where places and geographical landmarks are, allowing for the creation of maps with a greater degree of precision. On a rose, cardinal directions are shortened to N, S, W, and E, whereas intermediate directions are labeled NE, NW, SE, and SW.