I am trying to create a simple presentation map and I download the global level country boundaries shapefile from http://www.diva-gis.org/Data. The layer coordinate system is in Geographic Coordinate System: GCS_WGS_1984. Can you please let me know how I can display the map on UTM or any projected coordinate System using ArcMap?



1 Answer 1


The problem is that ALL projected systems are made to...

  1. Give accurate measurements.
  2. Give a pretty picture.

An accurate measurement projection is for a small"ish" area. Not the entire world.
All this being said. Arcgis will allow (other software do this too) multiple projections into one or different projections.
So you just decide what projection "looks" the best for your map, Set the document projection (see previous answer from below) to that. and then load all your data.
The only reqirement is that each data source would need to have a projection defined. (shape files use a *.prj file, tif images use a *.tfw file).

These helper files tell the software what the coordinates relate to. On-the Fly projection does the rest of the work.

I suspect that because of the question you have one or more datsesets that are not overlaying correctly.
If this is true you should look at the prj file to determine if: first there is one; and second if it is defined as the correct projection.
You can search gis.stackexchange for other questions related. LIKE: "projections"
Or just look at the related to the right of this question.

If you look at the TOC (table of contents). You should have a data frame named layers (that is just a default name).
Right click on that and select properties.
Go to the coordinate systems tab and select the UTM zone you want.
Unless you are actually asking about how to show the utm grid (which is in the grid tab [same dialog])
this should do what you want.

  • Thanks brad, but as I mentioned before I am trying to present a world wide map and my problem is I have to keep other overlays on UTM format which are in different Zones! Now when I want to select the UTM projected cordinate system i have to select a Zone as well and I am not sure which one to chose! Jan 4, 2013 at 18:19
  • As long as your layers have correct prj files, ArcMap will do the work for you. Just pick one and see how it looks.
    – Paul H
    Jan 5, 2013 at 1:08

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