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UTM Map Projections Help and SPCS shapefile

Question asked by tdeloriea on Jul 4, 2012
Latest reply on Jul 5, 2012 by tdeloriea
I am putting together a presentation about map projections and coorinate systems and would greatly appreciate some clarification about UTM Zones and the State Plane Coordinate System (SPCS).

I have a basic understanding of the concepts and usage of these systems, but have come across a usage that is confusing to me. Specifically, my question is: 

What is meant by NAD 83 UTM 12 North?

Is it simply the same thing as 12N?

I know (think I know) that in local applications (something that may be plotted on a 1:24,000 map), it is appropriate to use a UTM projection. But for North America, the use of a UTM zone in column N is better suited for regional (multiple states) display; because projections using zone N preserve the general shape and expected apearance, while distance and area are a bit distorted.

For example, when I worked in the desert in southern California we used UTM zone 11S. not 11N

So is UTM 12N sometimes refered to as UTM 12 North because it is often used to display areas of North America? Or am I just mixed up on the matter?

And I also can't find a shapefile displaying the SPCS Zones on a map.  Where can I find one of those?