Convert a file with coordinates in degrees, minutes and seconds to a shapefile in ArcMap 9.x

Last Published: October 20, 2023


The procedure below is for ArcGIS 9.3.1 or earlier versions. Starting from ArcGIS 10.0, expressions in the Calculator are created using only a VBScript or standard Python format.  For the equivalent process in ArcGIS Desktop 10, refer to How To: Convert a file with coordinates in degrees, minutes, and seconds to a feature class or shapefile using ArcMap 10.x


Follow the steps below.

  1. Format the coordinate values for ArcGIS to correctly interpret the data.
    1. Coordinates in DMS from a file must be formatted with spaces separating the degree, minute and second values, as shown in the following example:
      80 37 40,35 00 48
    2. For data in North America, the longitude values must be negative. Note the following example:
      -80 37 40,35 00 48
    3. Each column in the table must have a heading that describes the data entered into that column of the table:
      -80 37 40,35 00 48
    4. The table must have a field that contains a unique identifying number for each record in the table (primary key).
      1,-80 37 59,35 00 38
  1. Start ArcMap with a new, empty map once the table is correctly formatted.
  2. Save the script below as '' in ArcMap with the following steps:
Dim sField
Dim sDMS As String, sS As String, sSuf As String, sPre as string
Dim sList
Dim i As Integer, j As Integer
Dim iDec As Integer, iNum As Integer
Dim dD As Double, dM As Double, dS As Double, dDD As Double
Dim bReplace As Boolean
'Change the source field name bellow
sField = [dms]
sDMS = sField
If Len(Trim(sDMS)) = 0 Then
  dDD = 0
  iDec = 0
  iNum = 0
  For i = 1 To Len(sDMS)
    sS = Mid(sDMS, i, 1)
    If Not IsNumeric(sS) Then
      If sS = "." Then
        If Not iDec = 0 Then
          bReplace = True
          bReplace = False
        End If
        iDec = iDec + 1
      ElseIf sS = "-" Then
	sPre = "-"
        bReplace = True
        bReplace = True
      End If
      If bReplace Then
        If iNum > 0 Then
          Mid(sDMS, i, 1) = ","
          Mid(sDMS, i, 1) = " "
        End If
      End If
      iNum = iNum + 1
    End If
  Next i
  sList = Split(sDMS, ",")
  Dim iLen As Integer
  If UBound(sList) = 0 Then
    sDMS = sList(0)
    iLen = Len(sDMS)
    If iLen >= 4 Then
      dS = CDbl(Mid(sDMS, iLen - 1, 2))
      dM = CDbl(Mid(sDMS, iLen - 3, 2))
      sDMS = Left(sDMS, (iLen - 4))
      If (Len(sDMS) > 2) Then
        dD = CDbl(Right(sDMS, 3))
      ElseIf (Len(sDMS) = 0) Then
        dD = 0#
        dD = CDbl(sDMS)
      End If
      dDD = 0
    End If
    dDD = dD + dM / 60# + dS / 3600#
    j = 0
    dD = 0#
    dM = 0#
    dS = 0#
    For i = 0 To UBound(sList)
      If IsNumeric(sList(i)) Then
        If j = 0 Then
          dD = CDbl(sList(i))
          j = j + 1
        ElseIf j = 1 Then
          dM = CDbl(sList(i))
          j = j + 1
        ElseIf j = 2 Then
          dS = CDbl(sList(i))
          j = j + 1
        End If
      End If
    Next i
    dDD = dD + dM / 60# + dS / 3600#
  End If
  If dDD < -180# Or dDD > 180# Then
    dDD = 0#
  End If
  If sPre = "-" Then  
    dDD = dDD * -1#
  End If
End If
  1. Open a table in ArcMap.
  2. Right-click a field, and select Calculate Values.
  3. Check the Advanced check box.
  4. Copy the code above into the Pre-Logic VBA Script Code section of the Field Calculator.
  5. Type dDD into the bottom section of the Field Calculator.
  6. Click Save to save the script to a .cal file and name the file
  1. Follow these steps to run the code above in the Field Calculator:
    1. Add the table containing the DMS coordinates to ArcMap through the Add Data button.
    2. Right-click the table name, click Data > Export, and export the table to a DBF file.
    3. Open the DBF table, and add items named 'longDD' and 'latDD' to the table, defining these as Double, Precision 18, and Scale 13.
    4. Calculate the field values for 'longDD' and 'latDD' by starting a load of the script to the Field Calculator.
Change the name of the field in the script to that of the original DMS fields.

Change the source field name to:
sField = [Long]
  1. Right-click the DBF table, and select Display XY Data after the coordinates are converted from DMS to DD.

    Define the projection for the event layer by clicking the Edit button in the Spatial Reference of Input Coordinates section of the dialog box.
Defining the projection allows the data to display as an Even layer in the correct location in ArcMap.
  1. Convert the Event layer to a shapefile.
    1. Right-click the Event layer, and select Data > Export.
    2. Select the output location for the shapefile and type in the name.
    3. Click Save and OK in the Export Data dialog box to create the shapefile.

Article ID:000012735

  • ArcMap 9 x

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