About creating a line with the Offset Line window

This topic applies to ArcEditor and ArcInfo only.

Occasionally land boundaries are described in a strip description survey plan. A strip description describes boundaries on either side of a specified centerline. This is used to describe easements or rights-of-way in land records.

The example below shows how a right-of-way is described relative to the centerline. The centerline has an arbitrary start point, 0+500.000. The stationing notation is used here; this is a shorthand method used to describe lengths. The stations are specified in even increments, typically units of 100 or 1,000, which appear on the left of the plus sign. To describe a point to the left of the centerline, you would say "0+519.775 16.240 LEFT," which means 19.775 along the line (remembering the arbitrary start point is 500m) and 16.240 to the left of the centerline.

Example strip description survey plan

The Offset Line window lets you create an edit sketch from selected lines. After you enter a start distance, which you read from your survey plan, you can add offset points by setting a distance along the selected line, an offset distance, and the side on which you want the offset point to be. Each offset point is added to the end of the edit sketch.

Offset Line works with one or more selected lines. Arrows are drawn to show the direction of the selection. You can select multiple lines as long as they form a single continuous line (regardless of the direction of the lines).

In the example below, the graphic on the left shows the strip description, and the right shows it added to an edit sketch in ArcMap. The road centerline has been traversed and is selected, so the right side of the road right-of-way can be added.

The survey plan (left) and the sketch in ArcGIS (right), created with the Offset Line window

To enter the edit sketch, you need to initially set the start distance for the centerline to 383.228. Then you can enter the offset points by specifying a distance along the line, an offset distance, and a side (left or right).

Offset points



383.228 6.858 R


383.228 12 R


464.184 12 R


476.366 26.371 R

Example values entered into the Offset Line window

Generally a straight line is added between each offset point. The one exception is where a circular arc is added to the edit sketch when two consecutive offset points are the same offset distance from a circular arc. In the example above, points 2 and 3 are both 12.000 and to the right of the selected circular arc, so a circular arc is added to the edit sketch.