I have four different polygons of soil data that encompass overlapping geographical areas. There is also some overlap of soil series, but each has a few unique ones:

  • Polygon A has Series A, B, C
  • Polygon B has Series A, C, D
  • Polygon C has Series A, B, D, E
  • Polygon D has Series A, E, F, G

Right now, each of them is symbolized based only on that polygon, meaning I've got different colors for the same soils in different maps.

Mismatched colors in legend

My goal is consistent symbology for all the layers so each series always has the same color. The end product is about eight maps, and I need the same representation for all.

Since no layer encompasses the entire soil range, however, I can't copy symbology from any layer to the others without some soils being absent. To make it even more annoying, the different polygons have different naming structures for the soil types (some are abbreviated, some are broken down into additional detail [e.g. sandy clay loam vs. sandy loam], etc.).

Is there any way in ArcMap (10.1) to create a symbology from multiple layers/features at once, to cover all possible categories A though G?

1 Answer 1


You can create a symbology of unique values for a layer without actually having a value occur in the dataset. you could use 'group values' (ctrl+select values and right click) to take all the possible values that indicate category 'A' in any given file. This way, you could have a single symbology that covers all possibilities from each dataset without having duplicates show up in a legend

  • I would follow TDavis for one layer making it cover all layers. and then create an lyr file (right click save as lyr file). then in each of the other layers import symbology and select the lyr file.
    – Brad Nesom
    Jul 24, 2014 at 14:57
  • I'm familiar with grouping, but can you tell me how to add a value that doesn't occur in a dataset to a layer's symbology? That's where I'm running into a problem, I think.
    – Erica
    Jul 24, 2014 at 15:03
  • 1
    if you look to the bottom of the list of values, there is an 'Add Values...' button, click that, and you can get a list of all existing values, but it also has a text box at the bottom that allows you to add new values that don't occur
    – TDavis
    Jul 24, 2014 at 15:06

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