About geospatial PDFs

A geospatial PDF contains information that is required to georeference location data. When geospatial data is imported into a PDF, Acrobat retains the geospatial coordinates. With the coordinates, you can view and interact with the PDF to find and mark location data.

Geospatial data can be either vector or raster based or a combination of both. After you import geospatial data into Acrobat, you can use the data in a variety of ways:

  • Find and mark location coordinates.

  • Measure distance, perimeter, and area.

  • Change the coordinate system and measurement units.

  • Copy location coordinates to the clipboard, and then use them to show locations in several web mapping services.

Create geospatial PDFs

You can create a geospatial PDF in one of these ways:

  • Opening a geospatially enabled TIFF (GeoTIFF) or JPEG 2000 file

  • Georegistering a PDF map or scan of geospatial data

When you open an imported file, measurements, point position, and length are displayed in geographic coordinates, which you can change, measure, and mark up. You can also assemble a PDF map from a variety of sources.

Open GeoTIFF and JPEG 2000 files

GeoTIFF files and JPEG 2000 files are raster images that you can import as new documents or as new layers to an existing document. Acrobat preserves the geospatial coordinates embedded in the file. These files retain their geospatial data when they are imported. If you import these files to existing documents, their coordinate system is converted to the coordinate system of the document.

  1. Choose File > Create > PDF From File.

  2. Select the geospatially enabled file to import.
  3. Select settings, and then click OK.

Import shapefiles

You can import a shapefile as a new layer to an existing PDF. The shapefile must overlap with the current PDF map. Otherwise, it is not imported. If it overlaps only partially, only the part that overlaps the current PDF is imported.

A shapefile consists of several files with differing filename extensions. Acrobat requires both the SHP file and the DBF file for importing.

  1. Open a PDF map, and choose View > Show/Hide > Navigation Panes > Layers.

  2. Select Option on the Layer sidebar and click Import As Layer.

  3. Browse to the SHP file and select it.
  4. Click Settings and change the Line Properties to a solid line and the line color to blue.

Interact with geospatial PDFs

When you open a geospatially enabled PDF, you can find locations, measure distances, and add location markers. You can also copy coordinates to the clipboard for use with a web mapping service.

View the geospatial measuring tools by choosing Tools > Measure.

Use the Geospatial Location tool to perform these tasks:

  • View latitude and longitude while the cursor is over an area containing geospatial information.

  • Mark a location with a geospatial annotation.

  • Search for a location in a document.

Find map locations

  1. Open a geospatial PDF and choose Tools > Measure > Geospatial Location tool.

  2. Right-click inside the map, and then click Find A Location.

  3. Type the latitude and longitude values (degrees, minutes, seconds, or decimal) in the two text boxes, and click Find.

    If at least one location is available, the location is highlighted with a blue square and the page is centered on the highlighted location.

  4. If the PDF includes more than one map, click the Next or Previous button to view additional results, if any. Multiple locations are available in several situations:

    • When a document contains multiple maps (for example, if a PDF contains a smaller map within a larger map, such as a city within a map of a state or country). When you search for a location within the city, Acrobat finds it in both the larger map and the city map.

    • When a document contains multiple pages of a map (for example, if page one is a map of a country and page two is a map of a state or city within the country).

  5. (Optional) To add a comment (such as a place name or address), click the location marker, and then add the information in the comment box.
  6. To end the search, right-click inside the map. Then select Hide Location Search, to remove the search boxes.

Mark geospatial locations

  1. Open a geospatial PDF and choose Tools > Measure > Geospatial Location Tool.

  2. Move the mouse pointer over the document to view latitude and longitude values of areas that contain geospatial information. Right-click inside the map, and then do one of the following:
    • To find a location, click Find A Location. Type the latitude and longitude values, and click Find.

    • To mark a location with geospatial information, click Mark Location.

  3. (Optional) To add a comment (such as a place name or address), click the location marker, and then add the information in the comment box.

Measure distance, perimeter, and area on maps

When you open a geospatial PDF, the Acrobat measuring tools read the geospatial information and measure distance and area instead of page or object dimensions. Use the measurement tools to calculate distance, perimeter, and area on any geospatially enabled PDF. As you move the mouse pointer over content in the document, snap markers are shown that indicate that you are on a path or path end point. You can also see the latitude and longitude of your cursor location when the mouse pointer is over geospatial content.

  1. Choose Tools > Measure > Measuring Tool.

  2. In the Measurement Tool display, select a measurement type: Distance , Area , or Perimeter .

  3. Select a snap-to option:
    • Snap to paths

    • Snap to end points

    • Snap to midpoints

    • Snap to intersections

  4. Do one of the following:
    • If you are using the Distance tool, click where you want to start the measurement, and then drag to the end point and click again. The distance is displayed in the lower-right corner.

    • If you are using the Perimeter tool, click the map in one corner of the perimeter, and then drag to each corner. Click at each corner and then double-click at the end point. The information window displays the perimeter size.

    • If you are using the Area tool, click the map at one corner of the area, and then drag to another corner. Click before changing directions. Double-click at the end to display the total area.

  5. To finish the measurement, right-click and select Complete Measurement. Or, select Cancel Measurement.

Copy location coordinates to the clipboard for use with a web mapping service

After you find a location on a geospatial PDF, you can copy the coordinates to the clipboard. From the clipboard, you can paste the data into a web mapping service that reads latitude and longitude coordinates.

  1. Choose Tools > Measure > Geospatial Location Tool, and then right-click the location on the map and choose Mark Location.

  2. Open the location annotation and copy the location information.

    Acrobat copies the data in this format: latitude then longitude, separated by a space. Paste the data into the address bar of a web mapping service that can interpret the location data.

Change measurement units within a document

To change the type of measurement units, right-click inside the map with the Measuring tool and choose Distance Unit or Area Unit. Then select a measurement type.

Change geospatial measuring preferences

You can change the measurement units for all geospatial PDFs in the Preferences dialog box. Click Measuring (Geo) from the Categories section.

Enable Measurement Markup

Adds a label to a geospatial measurement. When Enable Measurement Markup is selected, choose Use Label, and then type a label for measurements.

Snap Settings

Select the path parts to which you want measurements to snap to.

Display Value As

Determines how latitude and longitude values are calculated. Choose Decimal to display latitude and longitude as a decimal fraction. Choose Degrees, Minutes, Seconds to divide each degree of longitude into 60 minutes, each of which is divided into 60 seconds.

Display Direction As

Choose between Signed and Named. Named direction displays an N (north) or S (south) next to the Latitude, and an E (east) and W (west) for Longitude.

Always Display Latitude And Longitude As WGS 1984

Select to ensure that latitude and longitude use the current standard reference frame for earth (World Geodetic System 1984). For older maps that were drawn with an earlier grid (such as NAD 1927), you can deselect this option to see the original values. When an older map is registered in its native coordinates, coordinate positions can be different from current standards used in GPS devices and web mapping services.

Use Default Distance Unit

Select the measurement unit to use.

Use Default Area Unit

Area can be measured using a different unit from distance.

Don’t Show Transparency Layer In GeoTIFF And JPEG 2000 Images

Raster image formats include a transparency layer that you can choose to remove.

Export location and measurement markups

You can export geospatial location and measurement data to an FDF file. Each geospatial annotation has a GPTS entry. The entry corresponds to the latitude and longitude for each of the annotation points. The types of information that can be exported include the following:

  • Marked locations entered by using the Geospatial Location tool

  • Distance, perimeter (compound distance), and area measurements entered by using the Measurement tool over geospatial content

Geospatial data can be exported by using the Comments List panel.

  1. To export all comments, open the Comments List panel (Tools > Comment) and choose Options > Export All To Data File.

  2. To export a subset of the comments, select the comments and choose Options > Export Selected To Data File. Type the filename and click Save. The FDF file is saved.