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Create a map and change display units

In this lesson, you'll create a new project and tailor it to the needs of your mission. You'll also define the map's display units, coordinate system, and extent. Lastly, you'll add a feature to the map to represent FOB Rookie.

Create a new project

Before you can make a map, you must first create a project. A project contains maps, databases, toolboxes, styles, and other folders that may be useful when making your map.

  1. Start ArcGIS Pro. If prompted, sign in using your licensed ArcGIS account.

    If you don't have ArcGIS Pro or an ArcGIS account, you can sign up for an ArcGIS free trial.

    When you open ArcGIS Pro, you're given the option to create a new project or open an existing one. If you've created a project before, you'll see a list of recent projects.

  2. Under New, click Map.

    New map based project

    Choosing the Map template, generates a 2D map project, that allows you to quickly get started. Additional templates initiate projects with 3D global and local scenes and projects focused on data management using a catalog.

  3. In the Create a New Project window, change the project name to FOB Rookie.

    Project name

    By default, a new project is saved to the ArcGIS folder, located in the user documents location on your computer's C drive. To save the project elsewhere, browse to a different location.

  4. Click OK.

    The project opens and displays a default map view.

Change map display units and coordinate system

Next, you'll change the map display units, which are the real-world coordinate values that correspond with the pointer's location on the map, in order to match military standards. You'll also change the coordinate system to World Geodetic System 1984 (WGS 1984), a geographic coordinate system used by the United States military.

  1. In the map Contents pane, right-click Map and click Properties.


    The Map Properties window appears. One of the properties that can be changed is the display units, which by default are decimal degrees. You'll change them to the Military Grid Reference System (MGRS), a grid-based system for display units that consistently and clearly communicates map reference points.

  2. Change Display Units to MGRS.


    Next, you'll change the coordinate system to also match military standards.

  3. In the Map Properties window, on the left, click the Coordinate Systems tab.

    The default coordinate system is WGS 1984 Web Mercator Auxiliary Sphere, which is different from the WGS 1984 geographic coordinate system used by the military.

  4. In the Search box, type WGS 1984 and press Enter.

    Coordinate system

    The list of coordinate system options is filtered based on your search.

  5. Click the arrow next to Geographic coordinate system to expand it. (You may have to scroll down to see it.)
  6. Expand World and choose WGS 1984.

    WGS 1984

  7. Click OK.

    The appearance of your map changes to reflect the WGS 1984 geographic coordinate system, and the display units (at the bottom of the map view) change from decimal degrees to MGRS.

    MGRS coordinates

    MGRS is an alphanumeric string referencing a unique location on the earth. The first two numbers and the first letter represent a specific area of latitude and longitude known as a Grid Zone Designator (GZD). The next two letters reference 100,000 grid squares within the GZD, and the final 10 digits specify one square millimeter. More digits mean more specific locations.

Define your field training exercise map extent

The map extent is currently at its default. You'll set the extent to FOB Rookie, the location of your field training exercise.

  1. On the ribbon at the top of the page, click the Map tab. In the Inquiry group, click Locate.

    Map tab

    The Locate pane opens. This pane helps you quickly find a location, whether it's an alphanumeric string or a place-name.

  2. In the Locate pane, in the Search box, type 10SFF1053652904 and press Enter.


    This alphanumeric string is the 10-digit MGRS coordinate for your military base.


    If your map doesn't zoom to that location, that means that you've changed the focus of your map. If necessary, click outside the Locate pane, and then click inside the text box and press Enter again.

    You're zoomed too close to the ground to encompass the area of the field training exercise. You need a smaller-scale map to see more of the local area.

  3. At the lower left of the map, in the scale box, type 1:168,000 and press Enter.


    The map view zooms to an extent appropriate for your analysis.

    Window size affects map extents, so the maps pictured on your screen could differ slightly from the ones pictured in this lesson.

  4. If necessary, pan your map to the south so you can see Moss Landing to the north, Monterey to the southwest, and Salinas to the east. Depending on your window size, you may be able to zoom in farther. If you do, ensure that those three cities are still visible on your map.

    Map center

    Your field training exercise is actually on the former U.S. Army base of Fort Ord. The area is now known as the Fort Ord National Monument, a recreation area south of California State University, Monterey Bay. Now that you know the location of your field training exercise, you'll create a custom map extent, which allows you to quickly return to your initial view after panning and zooming a map.

  5. In the Contents pane, right-click Map and choose Properties.
  6. In the Map Properties window, click the Extent tab and click Use a custom extent.
  7. For Get extent from..., choose Current visible extent.

    Verify the following extent settings:

    • Top: 36.8396668 dd
    • Left: -121.9674686 dd
    • Right: -121.4788193 dd
    • Bottom: 36.5121888 dd

    Visible extent

  8. Click OK.

    The custom map extent is set to your current extent.

  9. Pan and zoom your map so that FOB Rookie is no longer in the center.
  10. On the Map tab, in the Navigate group, click the Full Extent button.

    Full Extent

    Your map returns to its custom extent.

Create a point feature

Next, you'll create a feature that represents FOB Rookie. First, you must create a point layer that you can edit.

  1. On the ribbon, click the Analysis tab. In the Geoprocessing group, click Tools.

    Analysis tools

    The Geoprocessing pane opens.

  2. In the Geoprocessing pane, in the search box, type Create Feature Class.
  3. In the search results, click Create Feature Class (Data Management Tools).

    Create feature class

    The Create Feature Class tool opens. The first parameter, Feature Class Location, is already filled. When you created your project, the software automatically created a corresponding geodatabase to store your project's data.

  4. In the Create Feature Class parameters, for Feature Class Name, type FOBRookie.
  5. Change the geometry type to Point.
  6. For the coordinate system, choose Current Map [Map].

    The coordinate system automatically changes to match the coordinate system of the map. In this case, the coordinate system is GCS_WGS_1984.

    Coordinate system

  7. Click Run.

    An empty feature class is created, and a corresponding point layer, FOBRookie, is added to the Contents pane. You'll take a look at where the feature class is stored in your project's files so you can access it in the future.

  8. Click the Catalog tab (at the lower right of your screen).

    Catalog tab

  9. In the Catalog pane, expand the Databases folder.


    The FOB Rookie geodatabase stores the FOB Rookie point feature.

    The FOB Rookie layer is also listed in the Contents pane, but it doesn't appear on the map because it doesn't contain any features yet. You'll edit the layer to create a point feature that represents FOB Rookie.

  10. On the ribbon, click the Edit tab. In the Features group, click Create.

    Edit tab

    The Create Features pane appears and lists a feature template for the FOBRookie layer.

  11. In the Create Features pane, click FOBRookie to display the construction tools to create point features.
  12. Click the Point tool.

    Point tool

  13. In the Locate pane, right-click the 10SFF1053652904 search result and choose Add To Feature Class.

    Add to feature class

  14. On the Edit tab, in the Manage Edits group, click Save.


  15. In the Save Edits window, click Yes to save all edits.

    Your new point feature is added to the map as a small dot near the label for the Fort Ord National Monument. Next, you'll change its symbol.

  16. In the Contents pane, click the point symbol for the FOBRookie layer.

    The color of your default point symbol may vary.

    Point symbol

    The Symbology pane appears. This pane has a gallery of default symbols you can use.

  17. Search the symbol gallery for Military Base. Click the largest Military Base icon.

    Military base

    The Military Base icon replaces the generic point symbol in the Contents pane and on the map.

    Your map is now ready for your first field exercise combatting the Monterey Liberation Front.

  18. Above the ribbon, on the Quick Access Toolbar, click the Save button to save your project.

    Save button

In this lesson, you started a project and modified the default map to prepare for your first field training exercise. In the next lesson, you'll download a spreadsheet that reflects three months of insurgent activity in the FOB Rookie area.