I have a shapefile with some polygons that I would like to superimpose to a raster image, but unfortunately they don't match perfectly due to the reference system the shp has been created with. So, I now want to "georeference" the shp so that all the polygons would match the below raster image. It's not just a matter of moving it, the polygons are a bit deformed compared to the img, so I need to create some control points to tell the program how I would like to move them. I know this can easily be done for rasters, but what about features?

Moreover, I am adding that I know that I can always georeference the raster to the shp, but in this case the raster must stay where it is, I only need to move the shp, as this is supposed to be the second part of the same job, but coming from another source has caused this problem which I have to deal with.

I am using ArcGIS 10.1 for Desktop.

  • Would it be easier to create the polygons from scratch with the editor, rather than georeferencing the shapefiles?
    – Aaron
    Commented Jan 24, 2013 at 14:06
  • Sorry, what's "scratch"? Anyway, I am talking about thousands of polygons within the same shp, so it would be better if I can move everything together, no matter if I loose some information or precision, it's something I am supposed to do with little time. And I think with the right number of control points the result could be satisfactory for my purpose.
    – umbe1987
    Commented Jan 24, 2013 at 14:11
  • 1
    Agreed, creating the polygons from the editor will not work due to the numbers. You wrote, "they don't match perfectly due to the reference system". Have you tried projecting the shapefile to the coordinate system of the raster image? Or is the vector coordinate system non existent (i.e. you have no idea what the original coordinate system was and have no way of finding it)?
    – Aaron
    Commented Jan 24, 2013 at 14:22
  • 1
    Unfortunately the Coordinate System of the shp is well known, and it's the same of the raster. I think who previously did the job made some mistakes. I've been also trying to reproject it, delete its projections and define new ones, but always coming out with the same result.
    – umbe1987
    Commented Jan 24, 2013 at 14:48
  • I have a question about the same problem. I'm actually using the last answer which is the "spatial adjustment tool", but I don't know which adjustment method is good to use. Because I tried everything and the adjustment is not perfect for all my features. THANKS
    – user35656
    Commented Aug 11, 2014 at 15:13

1 Answer 1


You want to use the "Spatial Adjustment" toolbar in ArcGIS, it works much like the georeferencing tool, but for vector data rather than raster. It can be applied to an entire layer at once, so you can create just a few control points (they're called "displacement links" in the spatial adjustment tool) and move every polygon in your layer.

  • That's exactly what I was looking for! Thank You so much, it worked perfectly!
    – umbe1987
    Commented Jan 24, 2013 at 14:59

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