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Geo-Refer logo Geographical Referencing Learning Resources

Mapping a Set of Points

A commonly encountered task is the need to map a set of points which are recorded as coordinates. A researcher may wish to do this simply so that they can visually explore the distribution of their data, or they may wish to spatially link the points with other geographically-referenced datasets such as a set of areas or polygons. An example might be where a researcher has the Ordnance Survey grid-references of a series of car crimes which they wish to map.

Set of Ordnance Survey grid-references:

1. 465474, 103429; 2. 465490, 103409; 3. 465517, 103409; 4. 465507, 103374; 5. 465703, 103334; 6. 465791, 103271; 7. 465869, 103294; 8. 465577, 103238; 9. 465825, 103146; 10. 465673, 103129

A GIS is usually the most appropriate tool for mapping a set of points. There are various GIS software packages available e.g. ArcGIS, MapInfo. Whilst the specific data formats and tools will vary depending on which software package is used, the basic methodology is similar in most cases and involves adding a unique identifier to each point, saving the file in a format which is compatible for import into the GIS and then telling the GIS which fields (columns) in the file contain the x and y coordinates to be mapped.

Copyright Attribution

ArcGIS® is a registered trademark of Environmental Systems Research Institute, Inc. (ESRI). MapInfo® is a registered trademark of Pitney Bowes MapInfo. Notepad is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation. The software screen shots shown in this page are reprinted with permission from Microsoft Corporation.