I am joining some values from a table to a shapefile. The table and shapefile have the same column names and types, but when I join, Arcmap creates a new field, and I just want the join to write the data from the table into the fields that already exist.

How would I do that?

  • Do you have any experience with Python? Cursors could solve this in a heartbeat.
    – Paul
    Jul 18, 2014 at 18:41
  • The quickest way is to export the shapefile to a new one, then delete the fields in the original shapefile that you don't want
    – user681
    Jul 18, 2014 at 18:41
  • @DanPatterson Actually, I believe if you go into the properties of the layer and turn those fields off (or turn everything off and what you want back on, depending on which is faster), they won't export in the first place so no need to delete - which has to be done one field at a time.
    – Chris W
    Jul 18, 2014 at 21:51

1 Answer 1


Joining a table to a shapefile won't change any data in your shapefile's attributes (thankfully!). Once you have the table joined to your shapefile, which you've done successfully, use the Field Calculator to copy the values from the joined table's fields to your shapefile's fields:

  • Right-click the shapefile's field heading (we'll call it Field 1).
  • Click Field Calculator.
  • In the Fields list on the left, double-click the field from your joined table which matches Field 1 in your shapefile. It should appear in the text box at the bottom of the Field Calculator window.
  • Click OK.

The values from your joined table's field should then appear in your shapefile's field. Repeat for the other field. When you're done, you can remove the join.

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