Geospatial on a Budget 2: Converting coordinates

April 20, 2016

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Editor's note: Welcome to the second installment of our 2016 monthly series, Geospatial on a Budget. Today we're going to take a look at some time-saving converter tools that won’t stress your math abilities or the budget…they are free.

Most professional data workflows include converting coordinates. Does converting points and working with projections ever make you feel like you’re back in that math class that you were certain wasn’t going to be useful in life? Whether you have a big stack of points or just one or two, we’ve found some options that may make life easier for you. If you’re working with groups of students, young or old, these may make the days on coordinate systems much easier. Impress all your friends at the next party with your knowledge of projections and coordinates!

Latitude, longitude, UTM and some datum

Montana State University has datum selection built into their converter choices. Their page includes the single lookup, UTM converter and a map in one stop.

Steven Dutch in Natural and Applied Sciences at University of Wisconsin-Greenbay has created some very helpful resources. “I got enough inquiries on this subject that I decided to make a page for it,” he said. You will find a newer java script version along with formulas that will take you back to trigonometry class. He has created a spreadsheet resource that does the math for you. And if you really want to get your geogeek on, then he has included some nice explanations of projection for you as well. 

Source: Directions Magazine

Lat-long converters

We have our very own little converter. It’s been there since 1998 when we started Directions Magazine. If you need a point at a time, this tool is a good option. Earthpoint has a similar tool. Their gadget will put the point on a Google map for you. Their page also has some good information on valid formats. TatukGIS has a Coordinate Calculator for the single or multiple point situation. You’ll find several of these one-point-at-a-time converters online — even the FCC has one.

Address to latitude and longitude

While we are certain that this category is not new information, if you need to quickly convert a street address to coordinates, here are some options:

  • They have similar UTM converters for one point at a time. Those tools are accessible by links at the top of the page.
  • This site was created for educators. Beyond the lat/long lookup, there are some other tools that may help you, such as Sketch-A-Map and the digital wall map.

We’ll be back next month with more low or no cost geospatial tools. If you're using low or no cost tools, we'd love to share those tools and/or your experiences with others. Email us at


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