Answered By: Carol Byrne
Last Updated: Aug 29, 2016     Views: 262

Geocoding is the process of calculating the geographic coordinates of a text-based location. For example, the text may be an address and geocoding will provide the latitude & longitude of the address.

(This information was updated Spring 2014 due to ESRI retiring its Legacy Geocoding and Routing Services December 31, 2013.)

There are numerous ways to geocode an address.

  • The Direct Geocoding Method: Use ArcGIS Desktop to create an Address Locator. You will need a reference file that the Address Locator will use to match addresses. Freely available street files that can be used as a reference file are the Census TIGER/Line street shapefiles. This method will create a point feature class. 
  • Third-Party Services: These methods will create a table containing latitude/longitude coordinates. In order to create a point feature class, you will need to Display XY Data within ArcGIS Desktop. 
  • Texas A&M GeoServices provides free services, including batch geocoding, geocoding correction tools, address processing, reverse geocoding, Census intersection, and k-Nearest Neighbors. Requires free registration. 
  • Excel Geocoding Tool (using Bing Maps API) provides a macro-enabled Excel workbook providing free batch geocoding. Max Rice is currently updating the tool on Github. A free Bing Maps API key is required to geocode. Register for a free Bing Maps API key hereSignificantly quicker than GPS Visualizer. 
  • GPS Visualizer (using Bing Maps API) provides free batch geocoding without downloads. A free Bing Maps API key is required to geocode more than five addresses. Register for a free Bing Maps API key here