A legal description, also known as a property description, describes a tract of land. This description provides information that a surveyor can use to identify an area of land on the ground. It is the written word that conveys the location of a piece of property. Legal descriptions can be written in several ways, including:

  • Recorded lot in a subdivision. – This type of description is more common in urban settings. A typical description would reference a lot number, a block number, a subdivision name, and the recording information for the subdivision plat at the Recorder of Deeds. These types of descriptions typically make survey research much easier to complete as the adjoining properties are also shown on the same recorded plat. For example; Lot 28 of Country Knoll Estates according to the plat thereof recorded in Plat Book 324 Page 45 in the St. Louis County Recorder’s Office, State of Missouri.


  • Metes and bounds description. – This type of description is becoming less and less common, and is typically found in more rural areas. It is used to describe irregular tracts of land and uses terms such as “a tract of land located in the Northeast quarter of the Southwest quarter of Section 23, Township 12, Range 2 East”. There are typically many describers of the courses and distances that the property runs.

Legal descriptions are what we use to describe land so that it can be transferred from one person to another. It is the written word, whereas the boundary survey is the physical location of the tract on the ground.

Information provided should not be considered legal advice and all buyers, agents and title companies should consult their attorneys for legal advice.