How can I put x,y values in an Excel spreadsheet into Arcmap?

They do not show on the map when I try.

I think the problem is the projection. I tried coordinate system: GDA_1994_South_Australia_Lambert and the projection: Lambert_Conformal_Conic. It still doesnt work :(.

y               x
-34.9167    138.5956
-34.9211    138.6216
-34.9473    138.5827
-34.9464    138.6519
-34.9726    138.579
  • 3
    this look like geographic coordinates. Try WGS 84. – radouxju Jun 9 '15 at 14:14
  • These look like Geographic Coordinates (i.e. values in degrees). Coordinates like this will reference a particular datum and ellipsoid. Both the above mentioned coordinate systems are projected and will not work because the software is expecting the values to be in a linear unit such as meters. Try using one of the Geographic Coordinate Systems such as Australian Geodetic Datum 1984. – spk578 Jun 9 '15 at 14:56
  • @radouxju WGS84 is the default datum used for GPS data collection however anna needs to make sure which geodetic datum was used orginally to enure geodetic integrity of the data. – spk578 Jun 9 '15 at 15:00
  • The first coordinates listed, is located just to the south west of Adelaide Oval in South Australia using WGS84 (GCS_WGS_1984) or GDA94 (GCS_GDA_1994). If the points were approx 200m to the south west of where they should be, I would say that the coordinate system was AGD84 (GCS_Australian_1984). But if the points are not showing at all, maybe try converting the excel into a .csv. I know that in the past I have had issue with Arcgis reading values from an .xlsx or .xls. So if I was to use the method by @spk578, would use a .csv file rather than .xlsx or .xls – TsvGis Jun 10 '15 at 5:59
  • Thanks. I did convert them to csv files. It took me a while to work out the coordinate, which is GDA_1994_South_Australia_Lambert. Phew!! I have a problem w joins and relates that loses heaps of points when 2 shapefiles join together. – anna Oct 8 '15 at 10:44

One of the ways to do this is to use the XY Event tool, which is used to create a point feature class from a table of x and y coordinates. You need to know what coordinate system the coordinates were recorded in as you will need this information to correctly locate the points. Coordinates in decimal degrees will need to be displayed with a Geographic Coordinate System and coordinates in a linear unit like meters will need to be displayed with a Projected Coordinate System.


  1. Add Data to ArcMap Session
  2. Change the view to List By Source
  3. Right click table select Display XY Data
  4. The Display XY Data window should appear. In the X Field drop-down list select your longitude value and in the Y Field drop-down select your latitude value.
  5. Then select the correct coordinate system (not sure have a look at EPSG.io to see the possible options) or consult with the data vendor or run through a process to find the most likely coordinate system in use (e.g. WGS84 is used by GPS devises, European Petroleum Data is normally in European Datum 1950)
  6. When you're happy don't forget to export your data to save as a shapefile or feature class
  • Thanks. It worked really well. However, I have a big data, approx. 400,000 points. When I join 2 shape files (join data from another layer based on spatial location), I lost nearly a half of data. Just dunno how I can to preserve the data. – anna Oct 8 '15 at 10:32
  • What are you trying to do exactly with the 2 shapefiles? A spatial join will work but you maybe loosing some of the data because the parameters used to execute the spatial join are not accurate. This could be using the incorrect statement and/or needing to increase the tolerance on the area a statement is carried through. – spk578 Oct 29 '15 at 10:17
  • Use merge if you are attempting to combine shapefiles...join is different – risail Dec 4 '15 at 23:23

Open Arc catalog, navigate to the directory of the spread sheet, right click the file, use the convert table to feature class wizard

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