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Creating lines and polygons

Release 9.2
Last modified August 17, 2007
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About creating lines and polygons

When you want to create new lines or polygons, the most likely way you'll do that is by digitizing the vertices that make up the feature. For example, to create a square building, you would digitize the four corners, using any combination of methods for creating vertices or segments. See this topic's related topics for more information on ways to create vertices and segments.

The Editor toolbar contains the most common tools used to create lines and polygons. For example, you can use the Sketch tool to click a position and add a vertex for your polygon. You can also use some of the other construction tools. To learn more about them, see The sketch construction tools.

The Advanced Editing toolbar contains some tools you can use to create new lines and polygons. For example, if you want to quickly create a simple rectangle or circle feature, use the Advanced Editing toolbar.

Look at the table of contents for this section of the Help for more ways you can create new features. These include creating new features by copying, buffering, intersecting, or mirroring features; merging or combining features; or using survey measurements.

In addition, the Editing common tasks section of the Help contains information on how to perform certain actions on different types of features. To view the list of tasks, see Common line editing tasks and Common polygon editing tasks.


Squaring off and finishing a polygon or line


The Square and Finish command on the Sketch tool context menu is a way of completing a polygon or polyline. It finishes a polygon or polyline by adding two new segments at 90-degree angles. Square and Finish saves you time and ensures precision when creating square-cornered buildings.




Creating a multipart feature


You can also create a multipart feature using the editing tools. A multipart feature is a single feature that contains noncontiguous elements and is represented in the attribute table as one record.


Note that there is one selection anchor (the "x") for the feature.

A multipart feature can only share vertices, not edges. If you attempt to create a multipart feature with parts that share an edge, it will be just a regular (single part) polygon feature.
Learn more about multipart features


How to create lines and polygons

Creating a line or polygon feature by digitizing

  1. Click the Current Task drop-down arrow and click Create New Feature.
  2. Click the Target layer drop-down arrow and click a line or polygon layer.
  3. Click the tool palette drop-down arrow and click the Sketch tool Sketch tool.
  4. Click on the map to digitize the feature's vertices.
  5. When finished, right-click anywhere on the map and click Finish Sketch.

  6. The line or polygon is created on your map.

Tips

  • To delete a single vertex from a sketch, center the pointer over the vertex until the pointer changes. Right-click, then click Delete Vertex.
  • To delete the entire sketch of the feature you're creating, position the pointer over any part of the sketch, right-click, and click Delete Sketch, or press Ctrl + Delete.
  • To finish a sketch, you can also double-click the last vertex of the feature or press F2.
  • You can undo the last vertex you created by clicking the Undo button on the ArcMap Standard toolbar. Click the button again to undo the second-to-last vertex you created, and so on. Click the Redo button if you want to re-add the vertex.
  • You can add the shape of a line or polygon feature to the sketch by right-clicking over the feature with the Sketch tool and clicking Replace sketch.


Creating circles with the Advanced Editing toolbar

  1. Click the Current Task drop-down arrow and click Create New Feature.
  2. Click the Target layer drop-down arrow and click a line or polygon layer.
  3. Click the Circle tool Circle tool on the Advanced Editing toolbar to create a new circle.
  4. Click where you want the center of the circle to be, then drag. A line representing the radius appears inside the circle as you draw it.
  5. Optionally, press the R key to type a radius, in map units.
  6. Click once to finish the circle.

Tip

  • Specifying the radius value in units other than map units (by specifying a distance abbreviation with the value) is not supported.


Creating rectangles with the Advanced Editing toolbar

  1. Click the Current Task drop-down arrow and click Create New Feature.
  2. Click the Target layer drop-down arrow and click a line or polygon layer.
  3. Click the Rectangle tool Rectangle tool on the Advanced Editing toolbar to create a new rectangle.
  4. Click where you want one corner of the rectangle to be, then drag.
  5. Optionally, hold down the Shift key when you drag to make a square instead of a rectangle.
  6. Click once to finish the rectangle.


Squaring a line or polygon

  1. Click the Current Task drop-down arrow and click Create New Feature.
  2. Click the Target layer drop-down arrow and click a line or polygon layer.
  3. Click the tool palette drop-down arrow and click the Sketch tool Sketch tool.
  4. Digitize at least two segments.
  5. Right-click anywhere on the map and click Square and Finish.

  6. The angles from the first vertex and the last vertex are squared. A new vertex is added, and the polygon or polyline is finished where the resulting segments intersect.

Tips

  • You can undo the last vertex you created by clicking the Undo button on the ArcMap Standard toolbar. Click the button again to undo the second-to-last vertex you created, and so on. Click the Redo button if you want to re-add the vertex.
  • You can add the shape of a line or polygon feature to the sketch by right-clicking over the feature with the Sketch tool and clicking Replace sketch.


Creating a multipart line or a multipart polygon

  1. Click the Current Task drop-down arrow and click Create New Feature.
  2. Click the Target layer drop-down arrow and click a line or polygon layer.
  3. Click the tool palette drop-down arrow and click the Sketch tool Sketch tool.
  4. When finished creating the first part of the feature, right-click and click Finish Part.
  5. Create the next part of the feature.

  6. When you have finished the last part of the feature, right-click anywhere on the map and click Finish Sketch.

  7. Now, when you click one part of the feature to select it, all parts are automatically selected because they all belong to one multipart feature.

Tips

  • To finish creating a part of a feature, you can hold down the Shift key and double-click the last vertex.
  • To finish a sketch, you can double-click the last vertex of the new feature.
  • You can also create lines and polygons with the mouse using stream mode digitizing.
  • You can undo the last vertex you created by clicking the Undo button on the ArcMap Standard toolbar. Click the button again to undo the second-to-last vertex you created, and so on. Click the Redo button if you want to re-add the vertex.
  • You can add the shape of a line or polygon feature to the sketch by right-clicking over the feature with the Sketch tool and clicking Replace sketch.

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