How to add lat, long coordinates from an Excel spreadsheet into ArcGIS
If you have a list of Excel lat long coordinates in a spreadsheet, giving them locations can be a daunting task for those starting out in ArcGIS.
So that’s why we’ve made this easy-to-follow tutorial to guide you in the right direction.
You can take any GPS locations or any lat long coordinates from a spreadsheet and import them as points.
Let’s look at a quick and easy approach to transform an Excel table into geographic data in ArcMap.
1 Convert degrees/minutes/seconds to decimal degrees
If you have latitude and longitude coordinates, you will have to prepare these columns in decimal degrees.
First, use this online decimal degrees converter or the conversion formula below.
Conversion formula: Decimal Degrees = Degrees + (Minutes/60) + (Seconds/3600)
All column headers should have no special characters and should be kept to a minimum.
2 Ensure data frame is set to your geographic coordinate system
In ArcGIS, right-click the “Layers” data frame in the table of contents. Then, select properties for the data frame.
In the coordinate system tab, expand geographic coordinate systems. Because GPS receivers use WGS84, click world and then select WGS 1984.
Now, the data frame is set to WGS 1984 geographic coordinate system.
3 Add Excel lat long coordinates table to ArcMap
Now, add your excel data to ArcMap (file > add data).
Navigate to your Excel spreadsheet and double-click the sheet with the lat long coordinates.
This will add the Excel table to ArcGIS and appear in the table of contents.
4 Display XY Data
Right click the table and select display XY data.
- The X field should equal longitude.
- The Y field should equal latitude.
When you click OK, this will create an event layer in your map. But this is just a temporary layer that you need to make permanent.
5 Save as feature class
As mentioned in step 4, when you create an XY event layer, ArcGIS doesn’t save it to memory. Before you close your ArcGIS session, you need to create a feature class or shapefile.
So right-click the event layer and export data (data > export data). Next, click “use the same coordinate system as the data layer”.
Save the file. At this point, you permanently create a spatial file from an Excel spreadsheet.
Recap: How to Import Excel Data in ArcGIS
1. Convert degrees/minutes/seconds to decimal degrees
2. Ensure data frame is set to WGS 1984
3. Add Excel table to ArcMap
4. Display XY Data
5. Save as feature class
When you follow these quick 5 steps, you turn an Excel spreadsheet with latitude and longitude coordinates into spatial data.