Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are often used to handle data sets that cover very large areas. A user needs the ability to locate a site or point in the quickest manner possible, and then display it on screen at an appropriate scale. Using standard MapInfo zoom tools can be time consuming and inflexible, especially on systems that manage data covering hundreds of Ordnance Survey map tiles. Most of the time a user will locate a site by a named area such as the nearest town, farm or woodland, and an experienced user may be able to navigate to a desired location by historic building name, road number or PROW reference number. A gazetteer will allow you to perform these operations without having to use the ArcMap or MapInfo zoom tools.

A gazetteer is a list of names linked to their geographic location. It can be used to rapidly locate a site on a map and at the same time set the display scale. A gazetteer may contain many thousands of records of any type (e.g. scheduled areas, Prow reference numbers, planning applications, listed buildings, settlements or even bat roosts).

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