ArcMap is a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software program that allows users to plot location data on a map. Real-world applications of ArcMap include showing population density and locations of critical utilities. Data mapping starts with collecting information in tabular form, usually in an Excel spreadsheet format. Once users can import tabular data into ArcMap, they can create powerful maps.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Challenging
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Things you need
- ArcGIS software
Format the Excel spreadsheet data so that the latitude and longitude data are in decimal degrees.
Insert a new column into Excel to convert the longitude coordinates to negative numbers if your coordinates are located in the Americas (west of the 0 meridian).
Convert the Excel file to .mdb, .csv or .dbf format if you are using ArcGIS software version 9.1 or older. For ArcGIS software version 9.2 or newer no conversion is needed.
Select "Add XY Data" from the "Tools" Menu on the ArcMap toolbar.
Press the "Edit" button to define the coordinate system. Then press "Select" and choose a coordinate system.
Convert the imported tabular data into a permanent shape file by right clicking the points events layer and choosing "Data-Export" and selecting the coordinate system you are using.
Preparing Excel Data for Input Into ArcMap
Tips and warnings
- To convert degrees, minutes and seconds to decimal degrees, keep the degrees as they are and divide the minutes by 60 and the seconds by 3600 and add all these together.
- If you used Excel to create a .dbf file and subsequently wish to add records or columns to the data, you must redefine the named range.
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