Skip To Content

Georeferencing a raster to a referenced layer

You can georeference a raster to either another raster layer or a feature class. When georeferencing, you should look for well-defined objects in your images, such as road intersections or land features. These objects should be on the ground and not elevated features. This way, you can be certain that you are referencing the same location in both the raster and aligned layers.

The raster layer you are georeferencing must either be in the same coordinate system as the map frame or have no spatial reference defined.

Saving the ArcGIS Pro project does not save the current state of a georeferencing session. Export your control points before you close the project.

  1. In ArcGIS Pro, add the reference layers residing in map coordinates. These layers can be a raster, a feature class, or a basemap.
  2. Add the raster dataset you want to georeference.

    Adding the data with the map coordinate system first is a good practice so you do not need to set the map frame coordinate system. It also places the raster you are georeferencing above the reference layers.

  3. In the Contents pane, right-click a target layer (the dataset in the correct location) and click Zoom to Layer.
  4. In the Contents pane, click the source raster layer you want to georeference.
  5. To display the Georeference tab, click the Imagery tab and click Georeference.

    The tools on the Georeference tab are split into several groups to help you use the correct tool in the proper phase of your georeferencing session.

  6. In the Prepare group, click Set SRS Set spatial reference system.

    If your raster dataset already has a spatial reference, it will be automatically used as the coordinate system for the map and the georeferencing session. If your raster dataset does not have a spatial reference, the Map Properties dialog box will appear, and you can choose the coordinate system to set for the georeferencing session; the default spatial reference is the current coordinate system of the map.

  7. Use the navigation tool to zoom and pan to the location where your source raster is located.
    1. Optionally, you can use Locate Locate to zoom in to a city or address.
  8. Click Fit To Display Fit to Display.

    The raster layer you are georeferencing is placed with the current map display.

  9. Optionally, you can use the Move Move, Scale Scale, and Rotate Rotate tools to move the raster as needed.
  10. In the Contents pane, turn off the visibility of any layer that you do not want to use as a reference dataset. This includes turning off the visibility of the basemap layer, unless it is the World Imagery layer.
  11. In the Adjust group, click the Add Control Points tool Add Control Points to create control points.

    To add a control point, first click a location on the raster you are georeferencing (the source layer), and then click the same location on the target layer in the map (the reference data).

    If you are using another raster as your reference layer, press the L key to toggle the transparency of your source raster on and off.

  12. Use the Transforms drop-down menu Transformation to choose the transformation you want to use.

    Zero-order polynomial

    Minimum of one control point required

    First-order polynomial

    Minimum of three control points required


    Minimum of three control points required

    Projective transformation

    Minimum of four control points required

    Second-order polynomial

    Minimum of six control points required

    Third-order polynomial

    Minimum of ten control points required

    Spline transformation

    Minimum of ten control points required

  13. In the Review group, click the Control Point Table button Open Control Point Table to evaluate the residual error for each control point.

    Press the L key to toggle the transparency of your source raster on and off.

  14. Delete any unwanted control points using the Control Point Table.
  15. If you're satisfied with the current alignment, stop entering control points.
  16. In the Save group, choose how you want to persist your georeferencing information.

    Save Save

    Saves the georeferencing information with the raster and its auxiliary files

    Save as New Save as new

    Creates a new raster file with the georeferencing information

    Export Control Points Export Control Points

    Saves the control points within a text file

Related topics