I'm trying to calculate pairwise river distance among 60 XY coordinates in a small region of Mexico with ArcMap 10.2.2. I have defined my projections and projected both my stream network and XY coordinate layers as projected coordinates using the NAD_1983_UTM_Zone_14N since the entire area that I am looking at falls within zone 14 as far as I can tell. I followed all the steps to start a new feature data set, imported my river network and XY layer, built a new network data set, etc. All of that seems to be fine. But when I use the Point Distance tool, specifying my XY layer as the input field and the near objects (since I want the distance between all possible combinations of my points), it always gives me decimal degrees. I also changed the Display setting in the Layer Properties to Kilometers, but that didn't help. I've tried starting from scratch with a blank map, and projecting everything in projected coordinates, but still no luck.

How do I get Point Distance to give KM or miles rather than decimal degrees?

  • That is odd. What coordinate system is the Data Frame using? Jul 16, 2015 at 13:34
  • What is your Geoprocessing>Environments>Output Coordinates set to?
    – artwork21
    Jul 16, 2015 at 13:37
  • The Data Frame and Output Coordinates both say NAD_1983_2011_UTM_Zone_14N just as I projected the layers into.
    – zach
    Jul 16, 2015 at 14:23
  • have you tries a spatial join to see if you also end up with degrees ?
    – radouxju
    Jul 16, 2015 at 14:47
  • 1
    Your xy data is still in latitude-longitude values aka a geographic coordinate system. You need to define back to NAD83 and use the Project Tool to create a new feature class (shapefile) that using NAD83 UTM 14N. AND don't use NAD83 (2011), that's valid in USA only. Just use NAD 1983.
    – mkennedy
    Jul 17, 2015 at 9:04

1 Answer 1


These steps would help to transform shape files from GCS to project coordinate system and ensure the calculation of distance or any other function appear in projected system:

  1. Add the shapefile into frame with projected coordinate in ArcMap.
  2. Make sure the shape file represented in its original coordinate system, for instance, if the file originally with GCS 1984, it should be represented in GCS 1984 so it gets mapped in its real location. This is essential for the next step.
  3. If the feature is a point, use the function "add xy data" to add x and y coordinate and export the table into dbase dbf file. It is important to select the projected coordinate system you want to change to from environment under "output coordinate".
  4. Export the table into dbase dbf file and accept adding it to the frame.
  5. Create new feature based on the dbase dbf file by using the right click command "display xy". Importantly, choose the projected coordinate in accordance with the frame coordinate.
  6. If the feature is line, use the command "Project" from data management tools: projection and transformations. It is important to select the projected coordinate system you want to change to from environment under "output coordinate". Then export the shape file and accept adding it.

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