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How to create a geospatial PDF using Acrobat 9

Learn how to create a geospatial PDF by either opening a geospatially enabled TIFF or JPEG 2000 file or by georegistering a PDF map or scan.

By Adobe – June 18, 2009


You can create a geospatial PDF in one of two ways:

  • Open a geospatially enabled TIFF (GeoTIFF) or JPEG 2000 file
  • Georegister a PDF map or scan of geospatial data

When you open an imported file, measurements, point position, and length are displayed in geographic coordinates, which you can change, measure, and mark up. You can also assemble a PDF map from a variety of sources.

Open GeoTIFF and JPEG 2000 files

GeoTIFF files and JPEG 2000 files are raster images that you can import as new documents or as new layers to an existing document. Acrobat preserves the geospatial coordinates embedded in the file. These files retain their geospatial data when they are imported. If you import these files to existing documents, their coordinate system is converted to the coordinate system of the document.

  1. Choose File > Create PDF > From File.
  2. Select the geospatially enabled file to import.
  3. Select settings, and then click OK.

Import shapefiles

You can import a shapefile as a new layer to an existing PDF. The shapefile must overlap with the current PDF map; otherwise, it is not imported. If it overlaps only partially, only the part that overlaps the current PDF is imported.

A shapefile consists of several files with differing file name extensions. Acrobat requires both the SHP file and the DBF file for importing.

  1. Open a PDF map, and choose View > Navigation Panels > Layers.
  2. Select Option on the Layer sidebar and click Import As Layer.
  3. Browse to the SHP file and select it.
  4. Click Settings and change the Line Properties to a solid line and the line color to blue.

Georegister a PDF map

Georegistration enables you to take any PDF map and add coordinates that map to real-world locations. To georegister a map, you need the boundary coordinates of the map (latitude and longitude). You also need the
projection scale on which the map is based. With this information, Acrobat can accurately transform the map to WGS 1984, the standard reference frame for earth.

  1. Open a PDF that contains a map image, and note the projection on which the map is based.
  2. Choose Tools > Analysis > Geospatial Registration Tool
  3. Type a name, and then draw a neatline around the perimeter of the map.

    A neatline separates a map from the rest of the page. It is commonly drawn around the map borders. The neatline defines the map area and allows you to remove parts of the page that are not relevant to the map. Or, select Use Page Bounds As Neatline to use the page border as the neatline.

    Move around the PDF by using either scroll bars or arrow keys; however, selecting another tool, such as the Hand tool or Zoom tool, cancels the registration process.

  4. Click one corner of the map, and in the Geospatial Registration dialog box, type the latitude and longitude coordinates for the first point.

    The coordinates define the area that is registered.

  5. Click in at least two remaining corners, and type the latitude and longitude coordinates for each. Then click Next.
  6. Select the associated coordinate system and units (projection scale) to associate with the map and click OK.

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Acrobat 9

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Combine Files

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Comments for this tutorial are now closed.

Bill Gunby

4, 2013-02-01 01, 2013

I have a map of a lake that is a pdf. I’d like to convert it to a geo_pdf so that my terra-go tool bar would show lat/long of various points on the lake. Would this method work to convert a pdf to a geo_pdf?  Or is there another way to do this?  If anyone knows how, I sure would appreciate an email on it. Thanks.

Hi Bill,
The ability to create and register new files in no longer part of Acrobat X or XI but you can still do this if you have Acrobat 9 Pro. Extended.


Dave Merchant

3, 2012-07-23 23, 2012

There are several example files in our gallery :

Although the creation of geospatial PDF files is now depreciated in the Acrobat X Family, you can still measure and annotate existing files. To create and register new files you must use third-party software.

Ammad Akram

5, 2012-07-19 19, 2012

can any body give me a pdf file with geo coordinates visible as a annotation in the pdf file. I want to see how the marking of geo coordinates look like in the file.

Comments for this tutorial are now closed.