How to Measure a Cross-Section

Measuring cross-sections is a common practice on work sites to plan and track earthworks, measure between designs, check gradients, measure distance, and verify utility locations. Using the Cross-Section Comparison tool in the desktop and mobile app shows you a detailed profile view of your survey. It allows elevation comparisons against other surfaces, linework, and models.

We’re working on the Propeller mobile app cross-section enhancements. Currently, you can use the tool to measure point to point distance, horizontal length, surface length, and compare to designs or surveys.

Create a cross-section measurement



Select the Cross-Section Comparison template from the Track Progress section.


Draw a line across an area to create a cross-section to view. Click again to finish the line.


Types of cross-section measurements


As you move along the cross-section line on the graph, the default view is the VERTICAL measurement of the survey surface.


Measuring the width of an area can be useful to determine the width of an excavation or whether a piece of equipment will safely fit. 

Select HORIZONTAL from the drop-down menu to measure the width of where the cross-section measurement intersects the survey surface.



Determining the tangent to different road gradients can be very useful on worksites. Using the cross-section tool, you can determine the tangent in DEGREES, as a RATIO or rise over run, or PERCENT of rise over run along a slope.

You can SAVE the cross-section measurement for future comparisons or discard it by clicking the back arrow if no longer needed.


Comparing cross-sections to another survey or design file

Comparing cross-sections to design files or other surveys across your site can be very useful for understanding and tracking earthwork progress, visualizing utility locations, and measuring distances between surveys and other design files.

Create a cross-sections line as described in the directions above, or turn on a saved cross-section from the MEASURE tab. 

Click the ADD DESIGN/SURVEY button and choose the designs and surveys you want to compare.

The designs you selected intersecting with your cross-section line will be shown in the chart by default.

Use the color-coded legend to distinguish features in your cross-section. When you hover over an element in the chart, you'll notice that the same element is highlighted in the legend to identify layers easily. 


By sliding your cursor across the cross-section line on the chart, you can see the elevation of the survey along the line.

You can also see any linework, surface, or model in relation to your survey.

Use the drop-down to measure the Vertical, Horizontal, and Tangent (in degrees, ratio, or percent) between surveys and files.

Click the ADD DESIGN/SURVEY button to add more surveys or designs to view how this site has changed throughout a project.



To delete a survey or design, click the next to the file's name.


Aspect Ratio

Change the aspect ratio to see a more or less exaggerated view of the cross-section. The 1:1 view makes it easy to view the cross-section with a true representation of the surface, whereas the 1:8 view will better highlight smaller elevation changes. For example, altering the aspect ratio is particularly useful when creating roadway cross-sections or conducting bench analyses. 

I still can't do it!

We wrote these articles to equip you with everything you need to get the job done on your own, but we understand that sometimes this isn't sufficient. 

If you're stuck, you can connect with our support team by clicking the Support button on the top right corner of your user portal.

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