Defining new types of features to be created

Sometimes, you may want to create features of a certain type in an existing layer, but the layer is not set up to capture those features. For example, you want to add features to a roads layer to represent an unpaved road, but you currently only have categories in your data for freeway, major highway, and local road. Through a wizard, you can define everything about the unpaved road category at one time—making it easy to prepare your data to display and store the new types of features. ArcMap automatically adds a symbol for the new category, any required geodatabase information (such as subtype value or coded domain value) for that layer, and a feature template to use when creating an unpaved road. The wizard saves you from having to stop your work to open multiple dialog boxes to set up the data on your own.

To define new features, your data needs to be symbolized based on categories of some kind—either as unique values or representations. The unique values can come from a text or numeric field or a field of geodatabase coded value domain attribute values or subtypes.

Defining new feature types can be very useful in design scenarios when you want to experiment with adding roads, parks, or buildings, for example, during the planning process.


The Define New Feature Type wizard is only available when the layer is symbolized by unique values on no more than two fields or by representations. If the wizard needs to add a subtype or representation rule to define the new type, you need to stop editing if you are in an edit session.

  1. Right-click the layer in the table of contents, point to Edit Features, then click Define New Types Of Features.
  2. Click Change Symbol to choose the symbol used for drawing the new type's features.
  3. Type a name and a description for the new type. These will be used as the feature template's name and description. You can also enter tags, which are used when searching for feature templates. Use a semicolon to separate the tags.
  4. Click Next.
  5. The next step of the wizard varies slightly based on how your data is currently symbolized. Click Next when you are finished with the panel.
    • When using unique values, type a value and label for the new category.
    • When using unique values based on two fields, you can specify all new values or use a combination of new or existing values to define a new type. When you choose an existing value, the labels are entered for you.
    • When using unique values based on a subtype, type the code to be used by the new subtype and the description. A new valid value is supplied automatically.
    • When using unique values based on a coded value domain, type the new code and the description. If the field is a numeric type, a new numeric value will be added to the appropriate coded value domain using the name specified in the wizard. If the field type is text, a new value will be added to the coded value domain using the name of the new feature type. A new valid value is supplied automatically.
    • When using representations, type a label for the new category (representation rule). The code is automatically entered for you.
  6. Type the default attribute values for new features created of this type. This sets up the feature template with those values.
  7. Click Finish.

    ArcMap adds a new subtype, coded value domain, or representation rule to the feature class (if needed); adds the new symbol to the table of contents and the renderer list on the Symbology tab of the Layer Properties dialog box; and creates a new feature template in the Create Features window. If you want to set additional options for the new feature template, open its properties from the Create Features window. You are now ready to create features representing that new type.