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The measure tools allow you to measure distances, areas, and feature locations on a map or scene. You can draw a line to measure length, draw 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.

Measure tools are located on the Map tab and are available for both maps and scenes. 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.


When you snap to a feature that has an offset in its symbology, the snap occurs on the feature geometry and not the offset symbol.

You can copy and paste the results to use in other applications. Anytime you need to change your perspective while measuring, press the C key to temporarily navigate. Release the C key to continue measuring.

In-scene measurements also include visual feedback for each component returned. The dashed orange and white line indicates the direct distance between the current endpoints. Labels for vertical offset distances and 2D distances display, where applicable. Also, a dynamic horizontal laser line shows the comparative heights throughout the view. Hover over the height component arrow to constrain distance measurements vertically. Measuring stays in the Y, perpendicular to the first click of the segment. If the mouse moves far enough away from vertical it returns to measuring in the full 3D distance mode.

Measure Distance in 3D

Measure on the map

To use the measure tools to measure on a map, complete the following steps:

  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 overlay window appears in the upper left of the view. In 2D, line feedback color is a dashed blue and white line. In 3D, it is a dashed orange and white line.
    • Measure Distance Measure Distance—Click on 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 can 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 to another building. The following 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 perform 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 results and the measurement mode.
    • Units—Click the drop-down list and select the unit to display the measured result in. Only one unit can be displayed at a time.
    • Mode—Click Mode Mode to set the interactive measurement type for measuring line distances. Geodesic is the default.
  4. Click the map or scene as necessary to add any additional segments.

    The measure overlay window lists a summary of measured values and includes a net direction angle and distance value.

  5. 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.
  6. Click Close Close on the measure overlay window when you are finished measuring. Closing the measure overlay window reactivates the Explore tool Explore Tool.

Measurement modes

The measurement mode drop-down list provides the following measurement modes you can use for distance measurements:



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 units

The units listed for each measure tool are derived from the units set for the project. Click Project, click Options, and select the Units tab from the Options dialog box to review the unit settings. 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. In the Measure window, only a single measurement unit can be actively displayed at a time.

Constant measure feedback in scenes

Two types of measurement feedback, Z-coordinate and Distance to cursor, are always available in the scene, regardless of whether the Measure tool is enabled as you navigate the view. These values are shown at the bottom of the view, next to the coordinate display.

  • Z-coordinate—The height of the surface or feature at the pointer location. The z-units are determined by the elevation units set for your scene.
  • Distance to cursor—The straight line distance from your view position to a location in the view. You must enable this as a navigation option.

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