Spatial Measurements on USGS Topo Maps
Photo of a landscape featuring a white sand road disappearing into pine trees on the horizon. Sunbleached grass and a palm tree in the foreground, bright sun contrasts with dramatically dark sky and advancing storm clouds.
view on EDIS


US Topo
Topographic map
Geographic Information System

How to Cite

Hochmair, Hartwig, and Adam Benjamin. 2021. “Spatial Measurements on USGS Topo Maps”. EDIS 2021 (1), 7.


United States Geological Survey topographic maps provide a variety of geospatial measurement tools thanks to their built-in georeferencing capabilities. Georeferencing facilitates display of geographic coordinates and measurement of distances, perimeters, and areas on PDFs using the measure tools built into Adobe Reader and Adobe Acrobat. This 7-page fact sheet written by Hartwig H. Hochmair and published by the UF/IFAS School of Forest Resources and Conservation explains and showcases the use of these geospatial readout functions. It also provides background information about and assistance with estimating point coordinates on the Universal Transverse Mercator grid cast on USGS topographic maps as an optional layer.
view on EDIS


Campbell, J. 2001. Map Use & Analysis (4th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Knippers, R. 2009. Geometric Aspects of Mapping.

van Sickle, J. 2015. GPS for Land Surveyors (4th Ed.). CRC Press.

The documents contained on this website are copyrighted by the University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) for the people of the State of Florida. UF/IFAS retains all rights under all conventions, but permits free reproduction by all agents and offices of the Cooperative Extension Service and the people of the State of Florida. Permission is granted to others to use these materials in part or in full for educational purposes, provided that full credit is given to the UF/IFAS, citing the publication, its source, and date of publication.