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FAQ: How does the ArcMap Buffer wizard calculate buffers, and how can I change the method that it uses?

Question

How does the ArcMap Buffer wizard calculate buffers, and how can I change the method that it uses?

Answer

When creating buffers, the ArcMap Buffer wizard uses a temporary spatial reference system called the Buffer Processing Coordinate System, or BPCS. The wizard provides four options to change how this coordinate system is determined. For instructions on how to change this setting, see Related Information below.

· Feature set optimized - The BPCS is based on the the spatial distribution of the buffered features. A Hotine Oblique Cylindrical projection is used. Once created, the buffers are reprojected and saved in the coordinate system of the data frame. This is the default option for ArcMap.

· Feature optimized - A BPCS is created for each feature being buffered, and each is based on an equidistant azimuthal projection. Once created, the buffers are reprojected and saved in the coordinate system of the data frame.

· The Coordinate System of the data frame (output) - The BPCS is based on the coordinate system of the data frame. This method produces uniform buffers and without distortion.

· The Coordinate System of the Feature Class (input) - The BPCS is based on the coordinate system of the features being buffered. Once created, the buffers are reprojected and saved in the coordinate system of the data frame.

Related Information