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The measuring tools allow you to measure distances, areas, and feature locations on a map or scene. You can draw a line to measure length, a polygon to measure area, or click an individual feature to get measurement information. In 3D, there is an additional tool to measure vertical distances.

Choose your method, and upon interacting with the viewer, the results appear in a small window overlaid on the map. You can measure any number of segments in a sequence—each click represents a new starting point from which the next distance is measured. The first click in the view begins a line segment, and the next click ends that segment and begins another. Double-click to finish measuring. You can copy and paste the results to use in other applications.

Measure on the map

  1. On the Map tab, in the Inquiry group, click the Measure drop-down menu.
  2. Choose a measuring tool and click the map to begin measuring. The measure window appears in the upper left of the view.
    • Measure Distance Measure Distance—Click in the map to measure the distance between two or more points.

    2D distances

    The 2D map distance measurement value is calculated using a specified measurement mode. For example, it could be the geodesic distance in a geographic map, or the planar distance in the coordinate system of a projected map.

    3D distances

    In 3D, you can measure between locations not on the ground. For example, click a window or face of a building, and measure over to another building. The line appears as floating but its endpoints are attached to each building. Three measurement result values are returned:

    • 3D Distance—the direct-line 3D distance
    • Map Distance—the 2D map distance calculated using the specified measurement mode
    • Height Difference—the vertical height difference

    • Measure Area Measure Area—Click the map to draw a polygon shape to measure the area on the ground. You can do geodetic area measurements in a geographic coordinate system (GCS) and planar area measurements in a projected coordinate system (PCS).

      In 3D, the area measured is returning the 2D surface area.

    • Measure Features Measure Feature—Click a feature to measure its length (line), perimeter and area (polygons and multipatches), or x,y,z location (point features).
    • Measure Vertical Measure Vertical (3D only)—Click to draw a vertical line to measure height or the difference between two locations. Moving the pointer sideways widens a reference circle at the end of the line to assist identifying the top (or bottom) of the measurement.
  3. Optionally set units for the feedback results and the measurement mode using the Options menu on the measure's overlay in the view.
    • Distance and Area Units—Set the distance and area measurement units. Only one unit can be displayed at a time.
    • Mode—Set the interactive measurement type for measuring line distances. Geodesic is the default.
  4. Press Esc anytime during the sketch if you want to cancel a measure to start over, or click Clear Results Clear Results to completely clear and reset the measurement results.
  5. The results overlay disappears from the view when you switch to another tool, for example, choosing Explore.

Measurement modes

The measurement mode drop-down list provides a selection of measurement modes you can use for distance measurements: Geodesic, Planar, Loxodromic, and Great Elliptic.


The shortest line between two points on the earth's surface on a spheroid (ellipsoid). One use for a geodesic line is to determine the shortest distance between two cities for an airplane's flight path. This is also known as a great circle line if based on a sphere rather than an ellipsoid.


Planar measurement uses 2D Cartesian mathematics to calculate length and area. The option is only available when measuring in a projected coordinate system and the 2D plane of that coordinate system will be used as the basis for the measurements.


A loxodromic distance is a line of constant bearing or azimuth. Great circles are often broken into a series of loxodromes, which simplifies navigation. This is also known as a rhumb line. Unlike geodesic, it is not the shortest distance between two points.

Great Elliptic

The line on a spheroid (ellipsoid) defined by the intersection at the surface by a plane that passes through the center of the spheroid and the start and endpoints of a segment. This is also known as a great circle when a sphere is used. The great elliptic type allows you to create lines only.

Measure 3D height

In addition to using the Measure Vertical tool, you can measure height by placing the pointer over the feature you want to measure, whether it's a building or a mountain. The z-value shown in the coordinate display at the bottom of your view is the measured height. The z-units are determined by the elevation units set for your scene.

Measure distance from view to cursor

Distance to cursor displays the straight line distance from your view position to a location in the view, such as a mountain top or the corner of a building. To enable this option, click the Project tab, click Options, choose the Navigation tab, and check Show distance to cursor. This value displays alongside the coordinates at the bottom of your view.

Measure units

The units listed for each measure tool are derived from the units listed on the Units tab of the Options dialog box for the project. To add a new unit, click <Select Unit Code> and choose from the list of all available units. To remove, format, or make the default, right-click the unit. Only a single measurement unit can be actively displayed at a time.

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