Existing indices of satellite telemetry error offer objective standards for censoring poor locations, but have drawbacks. Examining distances and relative directions between consecutive satellite telemetry locations, I developed an alternative error index, ξ, and compared its performance with that of the location quality index, NQ (Serv. Argos 1988). In controlled tests, ξ was more (P ≤ 0.005) effective for improving precision than was a threshold of NQ > 1. The ξ index also conferred greater control over the trade off between sample size and precision, making ξ more cost-effective than NQ. Performances of ξ and NQ were otherwise comparable. In field tests with bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis), rejecting locations where ξ ≥ 1.5 km reduced (P < 0.001) longitudinal dispersion, the predominant error component. Longitudinal dispersion for these locations was less (P = 0.025) than for locations where NQ > 1 and 63% fewer data were censored, so that the extent of animals' movements was better indicated by using ξ rather than NQ. Because use of ξ may lead to underestimating the number of long-range, short-term forays (especially when the frequency of forays is high relative to sampling frequency), potential bias should be considered before using ξ. Nonetheless, ξ should be a useful alternative to NQ in many animal-tracking studies.