How To: Make the Projections Tools for coverages work in ArcToolBox


Instructions provided describe how to create and format projection files for coverages to be defined or re-projected using ArcToolbox tools.

The Define Projection and Project Tools for coverages are in the following locations:

ArcGIS Desktop 9.x
ArcToolBox > Coverage Tools > Projections

ArcGIS Desktop 10.0
ArcToolBox > Coverage Tools > Data Management > Projections

A projection file must be created in Notepad, in the format required by the ArcInfo Workstation PROJECTDEFINE or PROJECT commands.

The PROJECT command must be followed by BUILD for all feature classes in the coverage in order to restore coverage topology.


Two different file formats are required. One enables the coverage projection to be defined while the other allows the coverage to be projected to another coordinate system.

Both files must be created using Notepad.

WordPad cannot be used. WordPad adds invisible formatting characters to the file, which the commands PROJECTDEFINE and PROJECT cannot read. The process fails.

  • Below is a sample of a projection file read by the Define Projection Tool:

    Projection ALBERS
    Units METERS
    Datum NAD83
    29 30 0.000 /* 1st standard parallel
    45 30 0.000 /* 2nd standard parallel
    -96 0 0.000 /* central meridian
    23 0 0.000 /* latitude of projection's origin
    0.00000 /* false easting (meters)
    0.00000 /* false northing (meters)
  • Below is a sample of a projection file read by the Project Tool:

    projection geographic
    units dd
    datum nad83
    projection albers
    units meters
    datum nad27
    29 30 00
    45 30 00
    -96 00 00
    23 00 00

    For further information, refer to the ArcInfo Workstation Help in the ArcDoc. Go to the Index tab, type in the name of the input or output projection required, and Display the results. The Help page displays the required projection parameters.

    To open the ArcInfo Workstation Help at version 9.x, go to Start > Programs > ArcGIS > ArcInfo Workstation > ArcDOC. At version 10.x, go to Start > Programs > ArcInfo Workstation > ArcDOC.

    Alternatively, type the word 'help', without quotes, at the ArcInfo command prompt.

    If the ArcInfo Workstation Help (ArcDOC) does not open on Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 or Windows Server 2008 R2, refer to the link in the Related Information section below to Microsoft Support Article ID: 917607 for a solution.

Related Information