Cropping a map

Question: I downloaded a map from the Internet and stored it as a .jpg file, but I only need one specific part on the map to print. I tried looking for some way to crop the map but I can’t find one in ArcMap. I tried to crop it first in Paint, but the picture is blurry when I try to magnify it in ArcMap. How do I fix this issue?

Answer: To crop an image in ArcMap you will need to:

  1. Add the image as raster data, making it a layer.
  2. Zoom to the extent you want to crop–resize the ArcMap window if needed.
  3. Right-click on the layer and choose Data –> Export.
  4. In the upper left, change the extent to Data Frame (meaning the current extent).
  5. Set the other export properties and save the cropped image.

Generally speaking the concept of raster data in GIS is agnostic to the meaning of the pixel values, as individuals or as a collective.  This differs from the graphics community which usually assumes you have an image of something, and the most common metaphor is a photo, hence the term “crop”.  The GIS synonym is “clip”.  So there is a Clip tool for Raster data.  If you’ve got lots of images to clip, then that tool is the basis for automation.

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About the author

Dr. Aileen Buckley has been making maps since she was an undergraduate student. She has a Bachelors in Geography and Spanish from Valparaiso University, a Masters in Geography from Indiana University, and a Ph.D. in Geography from Oregon State University. She is a senior product engineer on the Living Atlas team, and her work focuses on determining and sharing best practices for mapping and analysis with modern GIS. She publishes and presents world-wide on many aspects of mapping and GIS. She is a co-author of Map Use: Reading, Analysis, Interpretation, and she is a co-editor for the Atlas of Oregon. Aileen is a former president of CaGIS (the U.S. cartographic association) and is actively involved with the International Cartographic Association in which she is the lead delegate for the United States.


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