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Legal Description

A legal description is used to describe the location of land in legal documents (for example, the deed to your land).

The Public Land Survey System (PLSS) is used in legal descriptions. It employs a grid system based on township, range and section numbers. Here's an example of a PLSS legal description:

N 1/2 SE 1/4, SW 1/4, S24, T32N, R18E

For details on what these numbers mean, go through the quick PLSS tutorial [PDF].

You can find the township, range and section information on:

  • your property tax bill or property deed;
  • plat maps (available by contacting your county clerk or from various mapping companies);
  • U.S. Geological Survey topographic maps (available by calling USGS at 1-800-872-6277);
  • maps such as the ones in the Wisconsin Atlas & Gazetteer, produced by DeLorme Mapping Company (available at many gas stations, bookstores and discount stores); and
  • county highway department maps.