My recent project is to impelent a custom and georeferenced image to a leaflet map. I finisehd my custom map using inkscape now having a .svg and a .pdf vector data. As far as i know my next step should be the georeferencing of my image via QGIS, and thats where i need some advice. I already red some threads and tutorials but i couldnt figure out how to fix my recent problem: How to georeference a pdf with QGIS? I tried the georeference plugin for QGIS but this turn my pdf to a raster. The result is a big lack of image quality when zooming.

And furthermore i need to create a tile map with this georeferenced vector data. Is this even possible?

4 Answers 4


PDF with vector data cannot be georeferenced with the Georeferencer GDAL.

There are 2 plugins for referencing vector data:

1) vectorgeoref: It works similar to the plug-in for Georeferencer GDAL. However the version is only available in Italian language and up to 2.12 Wien run. If necessary I might provide a corrected / adapted version.

2) VectorBender: The plug-in also works with the current version 2.18. This version is not that easy to handle if you are not familiar to it. But once understood you can work quite well with it.

  • Thanks so far. Ill give it a try tomorrow! One question left: Lets say it works and my result is a georeferenced pdf. How to set it up in leaflet? Is it possible to set the pdf as a basemap in leaflet? Or do i have to export this as a shapefile and further export this as a geoJson? So confusing..
    – howard.D
    Jan 25, 2017 at 21:14
  • 1
    A PDF is not a good vector format. I think it is better to convert the PDF to Shape. Jan 26, 2017 at 6:46
  • unfortunately i couldnt find these plugins for qgis
    – howard.D
    Jan 26, 2017 at 14:53
  • Both plugins have the status "experimental". You must activate this (Plugin->Settings->Show also experimental plugins) Jan 26, 2017 at 15:19
  • ok i tried these plugins. Simple problem: the layer that has to be georeferenced needs to be loaded in qgis. Qgis doesnt accept pdf files.
    – howard.D
    Jan 28, 2017 at 17:34

After researching more it seems to be impossible to import the whole vector pdf with all lines ,points, polygons,exspecially colors, icons, text, mask, ... to a shapefile. There seem to be only 2 solutions:

Solution 1 (no costs): turn my pdf into an image (for example png or jpeg) and georeference this with qgis georeferencer.

Solution 2( with costs!): use TerraGo Composer and turn my pdf to a Geopdf.


Solution 3(no costs, very disappointing): rastererice the pdf, georeference it and then digitize it with some vector layers in ordner to add colors, text and so on of every single street, building and whatever my original pdf contained.

  • Even by testing and researching a lot i still cant believe that there i no way to import a selfmade vector map into a gis software in order to georeference it and prepare it for further use in webmapping.
    – howard.D
    Jan 28, 2017 at 17:38

Lets not use a vector PDF. Lets stick with the shapefile. Export the vector data as dxf from Inkscape, load it to ArcMap(trial version 60 days advanced license, means you have access to all extensions), export it again to shapefile and load it again to ArcMap. Now comes the tiresome part, where you will have to use the Spatial Adjustment tool to georeference your shapefile. When you're done, export it again as PDF and voila, you are done.
I never used tiling in ArcMap but this link describes it in a very simple manner(http://desktop.arcgis.com/en/arcmap/10.3/map/working-with-arcmap/how-to-create-a-tile-package.htm).
I am aware you need this to be done in QGIS, but as one time project you could try ArcGIS, all you have to do is make an account.
Let me know if you get stuck!

  • A DXF can also be imported into QGIS. From version 2.18.2 with a new interface. Jan 26, 2017 at 19:07
  • If you can import it then you should be able to save it as SHP. If you look in this post (gis.stackexchange.com/questions/33208/…) there is a good answer provided by @F.X. almost at the end of it.
    – alecsx
    Jan 26, 2017 at 21:21
  • 1
    DXF data only contains lines, points and polygons. All colors, filling, text and icons get lost. And this is what i definetly not want because i put some work in creating the map...
    – howard.D
    Jan 27, 2017 at 19:03
  • @alecsx Thanks for the link. The entry posted by F.X. could be helpful for further steps! But it doesnt solve the following problem: i cant add a pdf file as a layer and therefore i cant use his workflow.
    – howard.D
    Jan 28, 2017 at 17:44

There is a new solution to this problem. As of the newest QGIS release, QGIS 3.26, it is possibly to also georeference vector date, not just raster data. See visual changelog: Georeferencing vector layers in georeferencer.

For this purpose, the Georeference entry has been moved and can now be found under Menu Layer. In the Georeferencer window, click the vector symbol to open a vector file and proceed as used before:

enter image description here

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