Adding Attribute Data to the Shape file – ArcGIS Tutorials

In this tutorial you will learn about how to add new attribute data to the shape files. These shapefiles may be are digitized in GIS software or directly added from other source.

What is Attribute Data?

Attribute data is categorized as non-spatial data in GIS. Though objects are positioned in GIS based on spatial referencing and coordinate information, its properties or behaviour is understood by its characteristics. An object (represented as point, line or polygon in GIS) may have different properties (characteristics) such as name, length, area, temperature, literacy rate etc. Attributes are used for storing the characteristics of data. Attribute data can text type, numeric type or even boolean type of data.

How to Add Attribute Data to Shapefile in GIS?

Following are the steps used for attaching attaching attribute data to shapefile in ArcGIS software.

1.  Add the shape file (digitized in GIS or obtained from other source) into ArcGIS Software.

adding shapefile

2. Right click on the shapefile name (in table of contents) for which you want to add attributes and open attribute table.

open attribute table

3. The existing attribute table file of the shapefile will open as shown below.

attribute table

 

4. In the menu options of attribute table, select add new field.

add field in attribute table
add field in attribute table

5. Depending on the characteristic you want to store in the attribute field specify the name of attribute field. Also select the attribute type accordingly such as text or integer etc. Here in this tutorial, we are selecting attribute type as text and field name as simply name, because here we are going to store the property called name for the point shape file added in ArcGIS.

add field properties
add field properties

6. At the end of step 5, you will notice the attribute table as shown in the below image.

new field in attribute table
new field in attribute table

7. Next step is to minimize or close this attribute table window. Then click on start editing option of shape file present in the editor tool bar in main window of GIS.

8. Then again open attribute table window, and click on any cell present in the column “NAME“. You will be able to write what ever data you want. Here in this example, we have stored different names for the points such as temple, bus station etc.

add data in the new field of attribute table
add data in the new field of attribute table

9. After adding all necessary data close the window and move to the main window of ArcGIS. Here, in editor toolbar select the options save edits and stop editing.

save editing option in arcGIS
save editing option in arcGIS

10. In table of contents window, right click on shapefile and open properties of the file.

open properties of shapefile
open properties of shapefile

11. A dialogue window will open. In that window, select the label option, and check the box appearing on the left portion to label the points in the main window. Also select the column, which contains the details you want to display in the main map window from the drop down menu. You may also change the appearance of labels by adjusting options present in same label window.

label field in layer properties
label field in layer properties

12. Next click on the apply and OK buttons present in the same window before closing it. You will observe the map with all labels stored in attribute table as shown in the image below.

final map with labels
final image with labels

The above steps are used for creating a new field and adding attribute data for a shapefile in ArcGIS software. However, this procedure is suitable only when small data is being attached to the shapefile. When large no of points are present and more data has to be attached, this method becomes very difficult. In such situtations, attribute data is attached directly attached to the shape by joining the files (tables) to the attribute table. This method of direct attachment of non-spatial data will be discussed in the forth coming article.

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