About geographic transformations and how to choose the right one

I just stumbled on this most helpful post About geographic transformations and how to choose the right one by Aileen Buckley of ESRI's Mapping Center.  I even learned a few things from the comments...

I'd highly recommend the read, but if you only have a moment, read this:

So how do you choose the geographic transformation that should be used? Here are two Esri Knowledge Base articles that can help you:

HowTo: Select the correct geographic (datum) transformation when projecting between datums. This article contains links to downloadable zip files (for different versions of the software) that contain a list of all available datum transformations and their appropriate geographic areas of use.

HowTo: Determine which NAD_1983_To_WGS_1984 transformation to use.  The gist of this article is summarized below:

  1. NAD_1983_To_WGS_1984_1 - for the entire North American continent.
  2. NAD_1983_To_WGS_1984_2 - for the Aleutian islands.
  3. NAD_1983_To_WGS_1984_3 - for Hawai'i.
  4. NAD_1983_To_WGS_1984_4 - superseded by _5; this transformation method should no longer be used!
  5. NAD_1983_To_WGS_1984_5 - for the 48 contiguous United States.
  6. NAD_1983_To_WGS_1984_6 - for the Canadian province of Quebec.
  7. NAD_1983_To_WGS_1984_7 - for the Canadian province of Saskatchewan.
  8. NAD_1983_To_WGS_1984_8 - for the Canadian province of Alberta.

Note that geographic transformations work in either direction. For example, the transformation listed as NAD_1983_To_WGS_1984_5 transforms from NAD 1983 to WGS 1984, as well as from WGS 1984 to NAD 1983. When using the Project Tool, the geographic transformation is recorded in the metadata.