SPP-08 Field Notes

Version 1 - 18/07/2018

This guide is intended as general information only. If you are uncertain of your rights or interests, please seek professional legal advice. Landgate staff are not able to give legal advice or to draft your documents. Please read our Terms of Use above.

1  Standard of Field Notes

The figure size, density and contrast of the field notes must allow legible copies to be made by digital scanning and monochrome photocopying. Pencil must be erased from beneath inked figures.

Pencil notes must not be relied on. The surveyor should decide which notes may be of any future value and should ink those in. The rest should be erased. Pencil notes do not always scan legibly and this worries searchers enough that they request the original field record thereby defeating the purpose and convenience of scanning the field record. Pencil on clearly and totally cancelled pages is acceptable.

Each page of the field notes should bear the real date or dates of the work and should be initialled by the licensed surveyor and also by the supervised surveyor if relevant. In the latter case the supervised surveyor's full name should be recorded at least once in the field record.

Each page of the field notes should bear a north point and should be cross referenced to the other pages.

Colour must not be used to impart information, for example:

  • NOT ‘adjusted values in red’,
  • OR ‘measurements in green added on 1.9'96",
  • OR ‘amended as in red’.

Coloured ink must not be used because:

  • colours may not scan or copy clearly,
  • some colours, especially some reds, have been found to fade badly after many years, and
  • purple ink in field notes is reserved for Landgate examiners.

The use of coloured borders is discouraged. If they are used they:

  • should not extend underneath figures or letters because they might obscure the text on the scans or copies,
  • should be separated enough from any lines that their image is separate from the image of the line, and
  • should be pale colours which can be expected not to show on the scan or copy.

Blue highlight pen (e.g. ‘textliner’, ‘textmarker’ etc.) must never be used in field records.

The use of point numbers can be a useful method of making field notes clear and unambiguous especially in descriptions of adoptions or comparisons.

Because of the importance of legible copies of the field notes for search purposes, original field notes that do not meet the requirements may be refused lodgement or be delayed until a requisition is satisfied.

See Validation and Examination Practices Section 3 for information on field record examinations and Validation and Examination Practices Section 3.3 for checklists. See APX-03 Field Record Examples for specific examples of field record presentation.

2 Field Record Index

Field records must have an index or contents page which includes a short descriptive title of each

survey and contains adequate page number referencing. (See examples 1, 2, 3 & 4 of Appendix 3.)

The land description should match that used on the parent Certificate of Title. Other information to be recorded for each survey on the index page is as follows:

  • For Freehold Surveys the parent survey plan, WAPC reference number and certificate of title number


  • For Crown Surveys the Landgate and/or RDL file number and job number


  • The Survey Index Plan and the survey information (search) used. It may also have a reference to the suburb or a street name where appropriate

To ensure that all jobs in the field record are recorded on the various Landgate indexes, only one index page that lists all the surveys in the book is to be used. If this list is long the search and other details can be shown on other, appropriate pages within the field record.

Each field record for a check survey, amendment survey or additional work should also quote the subject plan on the index page.

The surveyor's company telephone and facsimile numbers and the postal address should be included for contact purposes, and any ‘in-house’ referencing (e.g. job number or field record reference number) may be recorded. It is recommended that this information is stamped or written on the inside front cover of the field record. If placed on the index page, care should be taken that if a stamp is used it does not soak through the page and obscure figures on the back.

In the case of a job in the field record not being the subject of a survey plan it is important that the wording in the field record clearly indicates the purpose of the survey. The use of the wording ‘repeg’, ‘identification survey’, ‘spike protection’, ‘cadastral connection’ or similar will initiate the recording of the field record on the Index Plans. (See example 1 of Appendix 3.) The words ‘subdivision’ or ‘survey of’ will defer indexing until a survey plan is lodged, except surveys for strata plans which are cross-indexed immediately. See Section 10 for the situation where a field record is prepared for a subdivision that does not proceed through to plan lodgement.

Surveyors who are lodging a field record for a subdivision well in advance of lodging the plan can request that the field record be cross-indexed immediately to enable it to be made available to others in a timely manner.

Details of instruments used (manufacturer, model and serial number) and details of the latest calibration (calibration date, place, certificate number and the results of the calibration) should be recorded in the field record on the index page to assist in legal traceability to the standard for length.

3 Surveyors Certificate

It is necessary for the surveyor to ensure that the ‘Surveyor's Certificate’ in the front of the field record has been correctly signed. Only the non-relevant phrase in paragraph (a) may be struck out. Deletion of the whole of paragraph (a) is not acceptable and will require the surveyor to rectify the certificate. Supervised surveyors are to avoid putting their signature and name in the places reserved for the licensed surveyor.

Only licensed surveyors with a practising certificate current at the time of lodging can lodge field records with Landgate.

4 Re-establishment of Alignments

The nature, age, material and condition of old marks that have been found should be described and it should be stated which ones were adopted.

It is necessary for the surveyor to show all true line dimensions (distances and angles) of the pickup (calculated from offsets, traverses and radiations). It is also necessary for a comparison to be shown between these calculated true line (distance and angle) values and the original values (and possibly other existing values). This will allow a searcher to quickly evaluate each survey.

It is the surveyor's responsibility to demonstrate (preferably in the field notes) the proof of the re-establishment of the alignments. The above information will usually provide that proof, but in some cases the logic of adoptions may need to be described. If the surveyor wishes to lodge a separate report it will be filed on the examiner's docket and cross referenced in the field record by Landgate.

It should be remembered that not all field records are fully examined, so any surveyor using your work as pickup needs to be satisfied as to its reliability from the records you provide in that field record. Providing that visible proof in your field notes will enhance your reputation.

5 Closures

To allow rapid appraisal of the survey it is requested that the surveyor record in the field notes the misclosure of any figures for which a closure has been calculated (pickup as well as new parcels) (see Survey Guidelines Section 13). It is especially important that any miscloses outside the specified limits are recorded together with an explanation of why the miscloses were accepted. It is useful to record brief details about the extent of the investigation that led to that decision.

6 Bearings in Lieu of Angles in Field Records

It is acknowledged that the use of arbitrary plane bearings is compatible with modern surveying equipment, computational software, the use of coordinates, and field practices but care must be taken in the way they are recorded.

The recording of arbitrary plane bearings instead of angles in field records is a means of showing the positions of lines unambiguously but the traditional method of showing the angles which were measured records an additional redundancy. In the event of a mistake the extra redundancy helps to locate it.

The recording of only bearings in field books cannot indicate how many angles were observed or which angles were observed. The risks in recording only bearings are magnified when some of these recorded bearings are not calculated from observed angles but are calculated from linear closures.

The situation is even more risky if some of these bearings are calculated from original work. If either of the above two sources of bearings are used, they should always be clarified by annotations such as ‘cal’, ‘cal from closure’, ‘adj’, ‘cal from orig’, or similar.

Where bearings are set out the annotations ‘obs’ or ‘set’ could be used for clarity.

It is accepted that on a Special Survey Area subdivision (or a job based on a control network and with layout made at various times during progress of construction) it is not practicable for the surveyor to record the layout of new work. In that situation the surveyor's responsibility for the survey is recognised and the work is accepted unrecorded, and the use of bearings instead of angles is accepted as a legitimate practice.

The recording of clearly labelled directions from a single station is different from the recording of only bearings. Recording of directions is acceptable as long as there is no ambiguity in their use. Directions can be clear while being economical of space.

7 Improvements

Improvements of a permanent nature (ie. buildings and brick walls) within one metre of a surveyed boundary should always be located and recorded in the field record. They are excellent reference marks.

Connections to buildings and walls are regarded as monuments and have precedence over measurements so the recording of such connections will allow the surveyor's intention to prevail in the future if discrepancies are found.

Connections to fencing with a description of the nature of the fence on rural surveys, is very useful information for later surveyors.

In all cases the nature of the improvement/s must be clearly described.

In the Perth CBD building fascias are often renovated so it is important to indicate the type of material connected to and the height of the connection.

8 Oversize Pages

The use of fold-out sketch plans glued into the field record is to be avoided. These make reproductions difficult and information on or near the folds soon become illegible.

9 Mark Gone

The term ‘gone’ should not be used unless the mark has conclusively been proven to be gone. When any doubt remains the term ‘not found’ should be used with a suitable description, or an alternative (for example, ‘presumed gone’ or ‘did not search’) if a competent search was not made.

10 Field Records Lodged for Surveys that do not 'Proceed"

Occasionally surveyors lodge field records for surveys of subdivisions that for some reason do not proceed and no plan is ever lodged at Landgate. In this situation the field record would never get cross-indexed onto the Survey Index Plan View within SmartPlan, because subdivisional field records are linked to plans for automatic cross-indexing when the plan is lodged. If the index page of the field record indicates a ‘Subdivision’ is proposed, Landgate would expect a plan to follow the field record to trigger the automatic cross-indexing.

If this situation arises (or has even occurred in the past) surveyors should contact the Survey Inspection team at Landgate on +61 (0)8 9273 7423 and request the field record be cross-indexed onto the SIP View.

If for some reason a subdivision does not proceed and a field record has been prepared, surveyors are encouraged to still lodge the record at Landgate but strike through the word ‘Subdivision’ and add the words ‘Spike Protection’ or ‘Repeg’. This will ensure the field record is cross-indexed as soon as it is lodged.

Surveyors are also encouraged to request that a field record be cross-indexed if it is lodged a long time (e.g. several months) before the plan is expected to be lodged. This will ensure that the survey information is available to others at the earliest possible time.

This page was last updated on: 02 Jul 2021