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Problem: ArcMap Buffer Wizard produces buffers that are not round

Description

When using the Buffer Wizard in ArcMap to buffer points, the output buffers are not round.

Cause

By default, the ArcMap Buffer Wizard uses a temporary Hotine oblique cylindrical projection to calculate buffers. This projection is only appropriate for a small buffer radius of less than five miles and at low latitudes. When using a large buffer radius or buffering data at high latitudes, this default projection is unsuitable.

Note:
Geometrically correct buffers will appear as ovals if the ArcMap Data Frame is set to a Geographic Coordinate System (GCS).

Solution or Workaround

Use the AdvancedArcMapSettings utility to change the default projected coordinate system used when buffering.

For detailed information about the Buffer Wizard, access the link below to the Esri Mapping Center:

The Buffer Wizard in ArcMap

  1. Close all ArcGIS Desktop applications.
  2. Using Windows Explorer, navigate to:

    ArcGIS 10.x:
    <drive_letter>\Program Files\ArcGIS\Desktop 10.0\Utilities directory
    ArcGIS 9.x:
    <drive_letter>\Program Files\ArcGIS\Utilities directory

    Double-click AdvancedArcMapSetting.exe.
  3. Select the Miscellaneous tab.
  4. Change the 'Buffer processing coordinate system' option to either:

    Coordinate system of the feature class (input)

    or

    Coordinate system of the data frame (output)

  5. Click Apply and close the dialog box.

    Warning:
    To create geometrically correct buffers using the (input) option, the DATA must be projected to an Equidistant projection.

    To create geometrically correct buffers, using the (output) option, the ArcMap Data Frame must be projected to an Equidistant projection.

    See the links in the Related Information section for more information on selecting a suitable projection for a project and for instructions on creating a custom projection file.
  6. At 10.x, go to Customize > Customize Mode > Commands tab. Select Tools, then drag and drop the Buffer Wizard to a toolbar displayed in the ArcMap window.

    At 9.x, add the Buffer Wizard to ArcMap by navigating to Tools > Customize. Select the Commands tab and select Tools under Categories, and drag and drop the Buffer Wizard to a toolbar displayed in ArcMap. Double-click on the tool to open and perform the buffer process.

Related Information