I converted degree, min, sec to decimal coordinates.

I made a simple spreadsheet with X and Y columns and one set of coordinates: x= -73.533678 and y = 41.05523

I added the data (File, add data, add x,y data) and it always plots to 0,0. I'm in the projection of the base map. What am I doing wrong???im

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    Does the point plot exactly at (0,0); or, after you zoom in, does it appear rather to plot near coordinates (-74,41)? In the first case you have a problem importing the values; in the second case, you need to tell ArcGIS that the coordinates are lon-lat ("define the coordinate system" in Arc-speak). – whuber Feb 17 '12 at 15:48

Assuming the numbers are read as actual numbers and not strings and the csv file is not open in excel (arcmap seems to protest if files are open elsewhere), have you tried selecting a specific coordinate system as suggested by whuber? I would try with the WGS84 datum.

edit coordinate system

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Similar to what @AkseIO suggested, make sure that the decimal separators are read correctly. In the past I had all sorts of weird problems with decimals in non-english locales

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