I have PDF maps like the one below (normally PDF, but JPEG for this) that I would like to be able to georeference to use with Avenza PDF maps.

I don't have GIS training, but have access to Arcmap 10.1 and Global Mapper (I looked at the Avenza software, but it is out of my price range).

How involved is Georeferencing the maps? I have the scale, projections and GPS points but am unsure of how to proceed.

Map M

  • One funny thing about ArcMap is that it can produce georeferenced maps, but not use them. PDF:s exported using the ususal map export function (both map view and layout view) will be georeferenced and work with PDF-Maps unless you uncheck that option in the advanced settings tab. Avenza PDF-Maps also supports GeoTIFF with georeferencing information embedded. It does not support .tfw. Make sure that the frame has a valid coordinate system. In order to georeference an existing unreferenced PDF or JPEG, see PolyGeos answer.
    – Stefan
    Oct 29, 2014 at 10:20
  • What software do you have available to you? You said you have ArcMap so you can certainly georeference therein and export a geospatial PDF or Geotiff. You could also georeference the map in Adobe Photoshop using Geographic Imager or in Adobe Illustrator using MAPublisher. You seem to have all the necessary parameters. Where did you get the map? And oh ya, PDF Maps does now support tfw, Stefan.
    – user39872
    Oct 29, 2014 at 13:24
  • Thanks, but MAPublisher is a bit spendy for me right now. Will have to figure out tfw and geotiff's as this would save a step. The maps are from the British Columbia Ministry of Forests website.
    – Jay
    Oct 30, 2014 at 7:53
  • Avenza Maps accepts georeferenced PDF's as input; PDF should be referenced to long/lat, NAD83 or WGS83.
    – Rick
    Aug 29, 2018 at 16:45

2 Answers 2


Ok the less technical answer is as follow:

Your sample has a lat/lon grid which I am almost certain will be WGS84, grab 4 corners that have clearly lat/lon labelled and georeference considering those points and WGS84 data, you could add a few more points since its a grid to minimize distortions

By the way you should just download QGIS from www.qgis.org its open source and has georeference capabilities, Avenza PDF maps accepts geotiff also that you can upload to the store for approval (if you intend to sell/provide) or you can read directly from your device

P.S. you will need to convert from PDF to JPG probably


Georeferencing raster datasets like your JPG files should be straightforward in ArcGIS 10.1 for Desktop.

The steps and options are well documented in the Online Help under Fundamentals of georeferencing a raster dataset.

I would try georeferencing to your GPS points first.

I recommend giving it a try and then you will be in a position to come back to research/ask additional questions if you get stuck.

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