Plat Maps

Plat books may be purchased on-line or downloaded from:

Plat books may be available at the local county equalization office, local library or local MSU Extension office.

About Plat Books

Plat books make use of the Public Land Survey System (PLSS) to represent land ownership patterns on a county-by-county basis. They are a convenient reference for local governments, private realty, surveying companies, and the general public. Commercial plat books for the State of Michigan are generally prepared by private map publishing companies in conjunction with county governments. However, recently counties have begun to update the maps themselves.

Plat books are prepared from a variety of source data including U.S. Census TIGER (digital line) files, historical local government tax parcel maps, aerial photography, and property descriptions. These records are used to produce a generalized representation of current land ownership patterns, along with geographic features, such as roads, water bodies, and railroads.

Public and private property depicted on these plats is not considered a full or legally accurate representation of ownership interests or extents, but is a generalized picture, or snapshot-in-time, of the last deed filed on a property at the time the County Register of Deeds' records were searched. The maps then remain static until they are updated some time later. A "last deed" depiction represents only the last document filed on the property and does not necessarily reveal or resolve full ownership by title or discrepancies in the record.

Complicating this picture, some commercial firms have made it a policy to insert "intentional" errors into the plat books to protect their copyrights, claiming only 85-90% reliability. Thus, while these maps are sufficient for many general purposes, they are not adequate for detailed use requiring high accuracy or current information.

Most commercial plat books are produced as hard copy books and do not necessarily have a true "real world" or integrated mathematical foundation. Today, however, several of these companies are beginning to produce digital versions which - with proper construction, registration, integration, and research of record data - will result in more accurate, current and useful data for many users of land ownership information. Also, another recent trend in plat book publishing has been the use of multiple fill colors in the maps. Color is now being used to differentiate between different types of public lands (national, state, and county forests, public hunting/fishing grounds, state parks, etc.).

Plat books are based on the Public Land Survey System (PLSS) and provide information on land ownership by county.The PLSS uses section, township and range descriptions.

Michigan plat books are published commercially and are available from several sources.