GPS to GIS Importing XY Data into ArcMap

Use the directions below to import a table of XY coordinates into ArcMap to create points on a map.

Note: If you are not using ArcMap 8.X GIS software, choose your software: ArcView 3.X ~ ArcExplorer ~ Other

Open ArcMap and either start a blank project or open an existing base map for your data.

Add a table with x,y coordinates to a map:

1. Click the Tools menu on the Standard toolbar and choose "Add XY Data."

2. Click the table dropdown arrow and choose a table that contains x,y coordinate data. If the table is not available in the list, click the Browse button to navigate to the folder containing your data.

3. In the X Field dropdown, choose the field containing x-coordinate values.

4. In the Y Field dropdown, choose field containing y-coordinate values.

5. Click Edit to define the coordinate system and units you had set on your GPS reciever when you collected the data. ArcMap will automatically change the x,y coordinates to match the coordinate system of the data frame. [Remember that longitude is the x coordinate, and latitude is the y coordinate.] Click OK.

Your data should appear in the ArcMap Table of Contents. Your points will appear as a cluster of dots on your map. To convert your new data to a shapefile, right click on the x,y layer in the Table of Contents and choose Data>Export Data. In the Export Data dialog box, choose the features and coordinate system for your new shapefile, name it, and specify where you want ArcMap to save it. Click OK.

Now you can add additional themes and overlay the new data. Remember: if the points do not line up with other shapefiles, you may need to project the new data which will be in geographic coordinates unless you have set your GPS to project your data.

For instructions on how to use ArcMap to make lines or polygons from the points you have imported, click here.


Note: Some GPS software packages will allow you to convert your GPS waypoints to shapefiles. You may not be able to use this software to make lines or polygons from your points, however. These are a few low- or no-cost programs:

GPS waypoints to ESRI shapefiles free conversion utility from Minnesota DNR can be used as an extension for ArcView 3.x or as a standalone utility to convert Garmin GPS waypoints to shapefiles.

Ozi Explorer GPS to GIS utility. not free, but works with a large number of GPS brands

GPS Utility for managing, manipulating and mapping GPS data from GPS Utility, Ltd.

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