A map projection manages distortions introduced when representing the 3-D surface of the Earth on a 2-D display. Distortions manifest themselves in the display of areas, distances, directions, and shapes. To address this problem, mapping software uses these projections to create accurate map displays.
Map projections can be divided into three main classes: cylindrical, conic, and azimuthal. For example, the popular Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) coordinate system covers the Earth’s surface in 60 zones, each using a secant transverse Mercator (cylindrical) projection with an ellipsoidal model of Earth.
For more information, see Mapping Toolbox™.