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Writing Legal Descriptions





TPC can turn any traverse into a legal description based on a Legal Description Style.

The traverse defines the sequence of courses or calls and the style determines the wording and formatting to use. The legal description is then written to the appropriate report, like the Legal Description Report or Traverse Report where it can be reviewed, edited, printed and saved.

Because you have complete control over the points in a traverse and can edit the legal description styles, you have complete control over how TPC writes your legal descriptions.

Learning Legal Descriptions

Legal Descriptions and Traverses

TPC uses the points in a traverse to define the sequence of calls in a legal description. See Legal Descriptions and Traverses.

Along with a few simple rules like whether or not to include sideshots and point descriptions, traverses create a natural link to legal descriptions.

Commencement Point Chain

TPC calls the sequence of points that define the Point of Commencement to the Point of Beginning the Commencement Point Chain (CPC).  TPC determines this from the sequence of control points in the traverse, but you can also specify your own CPC in the Traverse Properties Commencement dialog.

See Legal Descriptions and Traverses for more information.

Creating a Legal Description From a Traverse

From the Traverse View, choose Tools | Legal Description Report.

Choose the options you want from the Legal Description dialog.

Creating Legal Descriptions for Selected Traverses

From the Traverses Manager, select the traverses you want legal descriptions for and choose Tools | Traverse Report.

TPC displays the Traverse Report dialog from which you can choose to create legal descriptions for the selected traverses.

Legal Description Styles

TPC uses Legal Description Styles to construct a legal description. A legal description style, or just style as we'll call it here, contains user defined phrases and settings that create the wording and formatting for the legal description.

TPC ships with several default styles which you can use or modify to create your own personal styles.


TPC includes more than two dozen phrases that each correspond to a different part or geometric configuration of a legal descriptions. The are phrases that add the name, description and area of a parcel to the legal description, commence and end a legal description, identify special courses like tangent and radial curves and so on.

Phrases are the heart of TPC's legal description writer. By editing each phrases to say what you want, the resulting legal descriptions will say what you want.

Here is an example of TPC's phrase when the first call from the point of commencement is a straight line: Commencing at a Point of Commencement<START POINT BEING>; Thence <LINE DIRECTION>, a distance of <LINE LENGTH>

The angle brackets <> are place holders for data you want to include in the phrase. All the other text can be whatever you want it to be.

Place Holders

In the Phrases example above, the <LINE DIRECTION> placeholder is where TPC will insert the bearing or azimuth for that course. The place holder <START POINT BEING> adds the description, if available, for the point of commencement.


TPC includes all the settings you need to create the formats you want for directions, lengths, units, decimals, abbreviations and capitalization.

You'll also find settings like [x] Single Course per Line and [x] Numbered Courses that can make your legal descriptions easier to review and edit.

Legal Description Definitions

Legal descriptions employ special terms like radial curves, tangents, cusps, Point of Commencement vs Point of Beginning, etc.. The definitions of these terms are important in understand when and how certain phrases are used.

As a rule, TPC uses these terms as defined in Writing Legal Description - In Conjunction with Survey Boundary Control, Wattles, copyright 1979 by Wattles Publications.

Legal Description Reports

TPC writes it's legal descriptions to a report. Reports are word processing documents which can be edited, printed and saved.

When writing a legal description for a single traverse, TPC creates a Legal Description Report. When writing legal descriptions for multiple traverses, TPC includes the legal description in the Traverse Report.

Related Topics

Legal Description Definitions
Legal Description Phrases
Legal Description Report
Legal Description Settings
Legal Description Style
Legal Description Styles
Legal Descriptions and Traverses
Legal Description Dialog
Traverse Report
Report View
Message View


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