At Promotional events, and for white and yellow courses, the control descriptions will be written in English. These set out:
  1. The control number, you usually have to visit controls in this order
  2. The control code that is on the control itself, so you can check you are at the right one
  3. The feature the control is located at. This is always something on the map, but you might be told extra information such as which side of the building, top of bottom of a bank, how big the boulder is.
  4. At the top they usually say how long the course is.

Course 3 (White) 1.8km
1 (472) Distinctive Tree
2 (483) Building, North side
3 (488) Under the Bridge
Etc etc

There is an International Pictorial Language which is used for red courses, so people can orienteer anywhere in the world. In between, orange courses get both forms of description.

Here's a link to a One-Page Listing of the symbols.

Here's a link to a Complete Presentation of all the symbols.

Here's a link to a Quiz to Test Your Knowledge of the symbols.

These are all interpretations of the official IOF publication dated 1990. This is available in booklet form from good orienteering shops. It is currently under revision but the changes will only be minor "tuning".

Hint: Before you start, write the control codes and an abbreviation of the feature in the boxes on your control card. Then there's one less piece of paper to worry about. The pictorial symbols make really good abbreviations.

Written by and installed on 10 June 02. Limited update 8 Sep 04: a new edition of the IOF publication came into effect on 1 Jan 04: you can find it on the IOF website.

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