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Crown copyright and intellectual property rights

Please see our crown copyright web page for more information.

Feature attribution

Feature attributes are the characteristics associated with features in Ordnance Survey datasets. These characteristics could relate to the real-world object the feature represents or the properties of the feature itself. For example, the theme the feature belongs to is an attribute.

Each Ordnance Survey dataset has its own set of feature attribution. For a more detailed description of the feature attribution relevant to each, please consult the technical specification of the dataset you hold or contact us for further guidance.


Raster format means the representation of mapping composed of individual pixels (the smallest discernable element of such mapping), where the information stored within each pixel corresponds to the colour of that pixel only and such information is not referenced to the information within any other pixel. In other words, raster data is a picture with no ‘intelligence’. What you see is what you get!


Vector format means the representation of individual geographic or cartographic features as individual data objects comprising, but not limited to, points, lines, areas and attributes, including cartographic text. So, for example, you can choose to include or exclude particular features when displaying vector data. You could also interrogate particular features and view attribution that has been associated with them. Vector data may therefore be considered to be more flexible and ‘intelligent’ than raster data.


Waypoints are simply reference points in physical space that are used for the purpose of navigation. They are defined by coordinates, which, for the purposes of terrestrial navigation, may be expressed in terms of longitude and latitude or Ordnance Survey grid references. Waypoints are usually associated with distinctive features of the real world, such as buildings or the intersections of roads or paths.

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