I have two layers, a line and a point layer.

I need to make a line layer which connects all the points to the nearest line feature. How can I do that?

Is there a plugin available for QGIS? This is a very important tool which is missing in QGIS.

ArcView has this tool: "Nearest Features"


6 Answers 6


As an alternative, you could:

  1. Use the Convert Lines to Points tool from:

    Processing Toolbox > SAGA > Shapes - Points > Convert Lines to Points

    (Add points over small distances. E.g. add a point every 1m if the overall line is 100m)

    Convert lines to points

  2. Use the Distance to nearest hub from:

    Processing Toolbox > QGIS geoalgorithms > Vector analysis tools > Distance to nearest hub

    (Set the parameters, using the output layer of the Convert Lines to Points tool as the Destination hubs layer and setting the Output shape type as Line to hub)

    Distance to nearest hub

  3. Final result should be a line layer which connects the original points layer with the original line layer (with line-converted points):

    Final result with points

    (without line-converted points):

    Final result without points

I used QGIS 2.12.3-Lyon.

  • There is now a tool called "Points along geometry" in the Vector geometry menu in QGIS which does the same as the SAGA tool.
    – Jens
    Commented Jul 6, 2020 at 9:24

In QGIS I can suggest using a "Virtual Layer" through Layer > Add Layer > Add/Edit Virtual Layer....

Let's assume we have two layers 'points' and 'river' with their corresponding attribute tables, see image below.


With the following query, it is possible to create new lines that will represent the connection between points to the nearest line features.

    ST_ShortestLine(r.geometry, p.geometry),
    p.id AS pid,
    r.id AS rid,
    ROUND(ST_Length(ST_ShortestLine(r.geometry, p.geometry)), 6) AS distance
    points AS p, river AS r
    distance < 0.5


  • WHERE distance < 0.5 specifies the longest acceptable distance between point to the line feature

The output Virtual Layer with its Attribute table will look as following


  • Note - This is a PostGIS query... Commented Jul 16, 2021 at 13:57
  • 1
    Exactly what I'm looking. however, QGIS freezes, and no layer is added after it is working again. I have a point layer with about 22.000 points. Is this probably too big? For both files I created a spatial index and for the adding I used the provider OGR data provider. Is this correct so far? I'm not sure, if I actually have Postgre with PostGIS configured. Could this be the problem?
    – i.i.k.
    Commented Apr 3, 2023 at 12:37

Meanwhile (since QGIS 3.16), there is the new overlay_nearest() function you can use for that with QGIS expressions. For each point, 1) get the nearest line with overlay_nearest(), 2) get the closest point on this line to the point using closest_point().

The expression to be used with Geometry generator or Geometry by expression (see here for details) look like:

make_line (
    closest_point (
        overlay_nearest ('line', $geometry)[0],
  • Replace line in line 4 with the name of your line layer.

Dotted lines to connect points to nearest lines are created with the above expression:

enter image description here

  • Is there a way to get the actual distances added to the point geometries as a new attribute?
    – i.i.k.
    Commented Apr 3, 2023 at 11:44
  • 1
    Yes. Add length() funtion to it and enclose the expression above: length ( make_line [...] )`
    – Babel
    Commented Apr 3, 2023 at 11:54
  • 1
    However, be aware of the CRS you use to get meaningful values. E.g. don't use any mercator projections - or reproject your results using transform() function. See here, solution 3 for details: gis.stackexchange.com/a/438809/88814
    – Babel
    Commented Apr 3, 2023 at 11:56
  • 1
    Hi @Babel, I did try to enclose my code in the length function, however, then it doesn't work anymore, meaning, it doesn't even create the line anymore.
    – i.i.k.
    Commented Apr 3, 2023 at 13:07
  • My code is: length( make_line ( $geometry, closest_point (overlay_nearest ('clipped_mainstreets', $geometry)[0],$geometry)) )
    – i.i.k.
    Commented Apr 3, 2023 at 13:09

The ClosestPoint does what you are looking for, currently limited to selected features only. You can take a look at the code and modify it for your needs


Shortest Line Between Features

I am using shortestline() from Vector Analysis in QGIS 3.28. It creates a new layer with the shortest line between the source and destination layer, with a ""distance"" field with the length of each line.

Use the point layer as input and the line layer as destination:

enter image description here


If you find the point over the line, the shortest point, with the coordinate 3D (X,Y,Z) you need an algorithm to calc the position over the shortest line. You can using this tool https://github.com/rafaelduartenom/findpointonline. You need postgres to execute this tool and shapefiles.


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