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Adding and deleting fields

Release 9.3
Last modified April 24, 2009
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About adding and deleting fields

Note: This topic was updated for 9.3.1.

You can add or remove fields from a table or feature class. Most likely, you'll add or remove fields from data that you personally manage.

You can add or remove fields as long as the following conditions are met:

Large organizations typically have databases with well-defined schemas that outline the contents, including fields, of the database. Unless you manage the database, it is unlikely that you'll be able to add or remove fields.

To add a new field, you need to specify the field's data type and any required properties. For example, you need to specify length for string fields and precision and scale for numeric fields in ArcSDE geodatabases.

The Add Field dialog box only lists the field types and properties supported by the particular data source to which you're adding the field. For example, you won't see the BLOB field type in the Add Field dialog box unless you are working with a geodatabase. In addition, if you are adding a numeric field to a personal or file geodatabase, you won't see the precision and scale properties since they only apply to ArcSDE geodatabases.

Follow these links to learn more about fields and working with them in various data sources:
Defining fields in geodatabase tables
Geodatabase field data types
Shapefiles or dBASE tables

Field naming guidelines

Field names need to adhere to certain conventions for them to be valid. Keep the following guidelines in mind when you name a field:

Remember that you can set a field alias if you need special characters, spaces, additional length, and so on. Aliases do not have to adhere to the limitations of the database, so you can give names to fields that are more descriptive than their actual field name. For example, you might specify an alias of Date of deed for a field stored in the geodatabase as DEED_DATE.

How to add and delete fields

Adding fields

  1. Open the table.
  2. Click the Options button in the table window.
  3. Click Add Field.
  4. Type the name of the field.
  5. Click the Type drop-down arrow and click the field type.
  6. Set any other field properties as necessary.
  7. Click OK.


  • The Add Field and Delete Field options are unavailable when you're editing the table.
  • You can also add or remove fields in ArcCatalog.

Deleting fields

  1. Open the table.
  2. Right-click the field header in the table window of the field you want to delete and click Delete Field.
  3. Click Yes to confirm the deletion.
  4. Deleting a field cannot be undone.


  • The Add Field and Delete Field options are unavailable when you're editing the table.
  • You can also add or remove fields in ArcCatalog.
  • You cannot delete a field from a table that is stored in an ArcSDE for DB2 geodatabase unless you are using DB2 for Linux/UNIX/Windows (LUW) version 9 or later. Be aware that deleting fields in DB2 LUW 9 or later databases may take a long time depending on the size of the table.

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