Geography 91A - ArcGIS -
Frequently Asked Questions

ArcGIS can really confuse people some time. Here are some common problems that really stump people.

ArcGIS Common Questions

  1. Switch between Data Frames
    - Right click / Activate

  2. Place a text box behind labels or text
    - double click text (opens "Properties" box) / Change Symbol button (which opens "Symbol Selector" box) / Properties button / Advanced Text tab / check Text Background box and click "Properties" button then finally click "Symbol" button. Whew!
    - note: size may not reflect true printout size

  3. I can’t deselect features after a query or other selection process
    - make sure to make the layer active (with a dark band through it), then right click layer / choose selection / then "clear selected features"

  4. How to create a new layer from what you’ve selected (same as "convert to shapefile")
    You can create a "layer file" to retain the symbolization (but it doesn't create any real locational files and is linked to the original file) -- to do this ... right click layer / selection / Create layer from selected features

    OR to create locational, more stable file -- export data -- right click layer / Data / Export Data ...
    This is useful after queries, for example, to create another layer or see what you’ve got.

  5. I can't seem to get "Select by Location" to work right.
    Every time I "intersect" files (e.g. vernal pools that intersect parcels), everything is selected (not just parcels that intersect vernal pools)!
    - I had a problem because I added a "layer file" that only showed vernal pools from the original landcover file, which contains all areas (geographically) and all categories. While the layer file only showed vernal pools, in reality all of the landcover data is available to select (and is unfortunately selected). SOLUTION: Use a Definition Query to display what you want (e.g. vernal pools) rather than categorizing with the layers properties dialogue box. Then only vernal pools are selectable.


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