Location types

Geocoding is the process of transforming a description of a location (such as a pair of coordinates, an address, or the name of a place) to a location on the earth's surface.

You can locate addresses, cities, landmarks, business names, and other places in more than 100 countries. ArcGIS for Office uses the ArcGIS World Geocoding Service to locate point features (such as addresses, United States cities, and world cities), and the ArcGIS GeoEnrichment Service to locate boundary features (such as ZIP Codes, states, provinces, and countries).

When you add data to a map from Excel, choose the location type that best represents your information. Location information from your data is used to create a relationship between your business data and the specified location type.

Location types

The following location types are available if your organization is using ArcGIS Online:

  • Coordinates—Latitude and longitude values represent an x,y coordinate location on the map. You can map x,y coordinate data in either the World Geodetic Survey 1984 (WGS84) or the Web Mercator coordinate system. If your latitude (y) values fall between -90 and 90 and the longitude (x) values range from -180 to 180, use WGS84. If your latitude and longitude values are in meters and have six, seven, or eight digits before (to the left of) the decimal point, use Web Mercator. You can also choose one of the many coordinate systems that ArcGIS supports; see Geographic coordinate systems for a detailed list.
  • Address—Depending on the geographic region of your organization, address data can be composed of any of the following multiline fields: address, neighborhood, city, subregion, region, state, province, postal code, United States ZIP Code, country, and so on. The more address elements your data contains, the more accurate your results will be. The address elements can be in separate fields, or they can be contained in one field (single-line address). Both methods of finding addresses are supported, but the best results are obtained by using all address elements and storing them in separate fields.

    By default, ArcGIS Online uses the ArcGIS World Geocoding Service to locate addresses, but you can specify multiple locators, and you can set any one of those as the default locator. If you're using the World Geocoder, see Geocode coverage for information about supported countries.

    Your ArcGIS administrator may impose user credit limits on some features, and you may receive a message stating that you have insufficient credits to perform a request. If so, contact your administrator.

  • ESRI JSON Geometry—EsriJSON encodes both geometry and feature information into objects. An Esri feature set is a collection of features with the same geometry type and coordinate system. In a JSON document, a feature set is represented by a JSON object. The JSON object has three keys: geometryType, spatialReference, and features. For more information, see EsriJSON.
  • Geography—This location type allows you to select an ArcGIS feature service showing boundaries and join it with your layer. These boundaries include states, provinces, United States ZIP Codes, postal codes, and countries. You can search for geographies in your content, your organization, ArcGIS Living Atlas, or from a curated set of administrative boundaries. Geographies are joined to your data and added to the map as polygons, which represent both the shape and the location of the place.

Considerations when choosing a location type

When you use ArcGIS for Office to plot your data on the map, it's important to choose the correct location type.

Address and Coordinates

When you choose the Address location type, points are generated using the ArcGIS World Geocoding Service by default, but your ArcGIS administrator may have also configured other locators for your organization and set one of those as the default.

For the Coordinates location type, data from the identified x and y location columns is used to generate points.


When you choose any geography, the appropriate shapes are located and retrieved using the specified column or columns for the chosen location type. This is done by associating the rows of data with the location type through a common column, known as a key.

The name of the column in your data does not have to match the column name in the location type; however, the information in the column must be in the same order to produce a match. When a row of data cannot be located—that is, the shape cannot be retrieved from the location type—it's assigned a null shape and is not drawn on the map. The following table shows the supported keys for each location type:

Location typeShape typeSupported keys

US State


The following is required:

  • State—State name. This can be a full name, two-letter abbreviation, or the state FIPS code (for example, New York, NY or 36).



One of the following is required:

  • ZipCode—ZIP Code (for example, 92373).
  • ZipCodePlus4—ZIP Code + 4 (for example, 92373-8100).

World City


The following is required:

  • City—City name (for example, Budapest).

Optionally, you can specify the following:

  • Country—Country name or ISO-3166 alpha 2 code (for example, France or FR).



The following is required:

  • Country—Country name or ISO-3166 alpha 2 code (for example, France or FR).


Point, line, or polygon (determined by selected map or feature service layer)

Configured by administrator on ArcGIS Online or ArcGIS Enterprise.

Specified for use in ArcGIS for Office when adding a layer to a map. See Use a custom location type.

When locating data using geography, it's important to ensure that there is a one-to-one relationship between the rows of input data and the shapes in the chosen location type. In a one-to-one relationship, each row of input data corresponds to a single shape on the map. The shape for each row of input data can therefore be determined and drawn on the map.

Choosing an inappropriate location type can cause unexpected results. This is because the wrong location type often leads to a many-to-one or a one-to-many relationship between the input data and the shapes in the chosen location type.

In some cases, where your data contains duplicate areas such as multiple ZIP Codes in a state, you can choose to summarize the values of the locations. If you choose not to summarize the data, features will be rendered on the map stacked on one another. For example, polygon shapes corresponding to multiple input rows will be drawn directly on top of one another on a map.