Working with group layers

A group layer contains other layers. Group layers help organize related kinds of layers in a map and can be used to define advanced drawing options. For example, suppose you have two layers on a map representing railroads and highways. You could group these layers together and name the resulting layer Transportation Networks. If you need to, you can even create nested group layers (groups of group layers).

A group layer behaves similarly to other layers in the table of contents. Turning off the visibility of a group layer turns off the visibility of all its component layers. A group layer's properties override any conflicting properties of its constituent layers. For example, a visible scale range set on a layer will be overridden by a visible scale range of the group layer.

A group layer named Tax Parcels <3600

You can change the properties of any of the layers inside a group layer. Change the drawing order of the layers in the group layer by reordering them in the table of contents. You can add and remove layers as needed. You can also use symbol-level drawing for all the symbols that the layers inside the group layer use by opening a group layer's Group Layer Properties dialog box and clicking the Symbol Levels button on the Group tab.

Creating group layers

There are a number of ways to create group layers. These include the following:

Managing the layers within a group layer

In addition to using the table of contents, you can use the Group Layer Properties dialog box to manage the set of layers in a group layer. Double-click the layer name or right-click and click Properties.

Group Layer Properties

The Group tab on the Group Layer Properties dialog box can be used to add and remove layers from the group layer, reorder the layers, set symbol-level drawing properties, and access the properties of the layers in the group layer.

Use the Display tab to set the group layer's contrast, brightness, and transparency.

Managing a group layer's display properties


You can also set transparency interactively instead of typing in a value. To do so, close this dialog box and open the Effects toolbar. On the toolbar, select this layer from the drop-down list of layers and click the Adjust Transparency button Adjust Transparency on the toolbar. Slide the slider to the desired level.

Group layers in dialog box lists

Layer lists in dialog boxes and other parts of the ArcGIS interface show which layers belong to group layers. These lists match the way the layers are organized in the table of contents. Each layer is listed with its layer icon from ArcCatalog so you can easily see what type of data each layer contains.

You can expand and contract the list to quickly access the layer you want to use. If the layer names are long, a horizontal bar at the bottom of the drop-down list lets you scroll through the list sideways.

Composite layers in a drop-down list

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