Joining Two Separate Polygons

Question:  I need to join two distinct polygons in a layer so they are considered one attribute. The 2 polygons are simple non contiguous parcels of land that need to be treated as one parcel. In desktop help, I found the following instructions (I could not find any other reference to joining polygons):

“Select the polygon graphics on the map you want to join. Click Drawing on the Draw toolbar, point to Graphic Operations, and click the method you want to use. The graphics are joined.”

This did not work. After pointing to “Graphic Operations”, the Methods, including “Union” were not selectable.

Please help.


Answer: It sounds like you want to do what we call “merge” – this will make the two features one feature. I am providing you steps below with links to online help.

1) You first need to add the Editor toolbar to your ArcMap session.

2) After adding your feature class to ArcMap, start the edit session.

3) Select the polygons you want to merge (hold the Shift key while selecting the features so that you can select more than one), click the drop down arrow next to “Editor” on the Editor toolbar and click Merge.

4) Save your edits.

This will merge your two non-contiguous parcels into one.  In the process of merging, you will be asked to select the polygon that has the attributes that you want to assign to the newly merged feature.

Hope this helps!

Formerly a Mapping Center Ask a Cartographer  Q & A.

About the author

Dr. Aileen Buckley has been making maps since she was an undergraduate student. She has a Bachelors in Geography and Spanish from Valparaiso University, a Masters in Geography from Indiana University, and a Ph.D. in Geography from Oregon State University. She is a senior product engineer on the Living Atlas team, and her work focuses on determining and sharing best practices for mapping and analysis with modern GIS. She publishes and presents world-wide on many aspects of mapping and GIS. She is a co-author of Map Use: Reading, Analysis, Interpretation, and she is a co-editor for the Atlas of Oregon. Aileen is a former president of CaGIS (the U.S. cartographic association) and is actively involved with the International Cartographic Association in which she is the lead delegate for the United States.


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