I need to create a new point record in my shapefile. When I use the Create Features tool in the Editor tool, I can click anywhere on my map to create a point, but when I go into the attribute table to change the point to exact lat/long I want, the point does not move to those coordinates.

Any ideas on how to add a point record into my shapefile with a specific lat/long properly?


The location coordinates of your feature are stored in a geometry/shape field in the attribute table, not a text readable field you can adjust. You can store the coordinates as attributes, but they won't actually control where the point is.

There are a few ways to address this:

  • First, you could just make a table/spreadsheet/csv of your coordinate pairs. Add the table to the map, right-click on it and select Display XY Data or use the Make XY Event Layer command on that table, then export the results to a feature class.
  • Second, you could actually create the point at the desired coordinate to start - rather than clicking to place the point, right-click and choose the Absolute X,Y option, which will allow you to type in the specific values (using the current CRS) at which to create the point.
  • Third, if you've already created the point and want to move it, you can double-click the point you wish to move, then right-click and choose the Move To option in a similar fashion to enter the specific coordinates you want to move the point to.
  • Your second point makes the most sense for me as I just need to add one point - however how come it does not add these coordinates into the attribute table? – Kayla Balderson Sep 28 '14 at 20:26
  • The short answer is that's just not the way spatial data is stored. As I mentioned, point (and vertex for line and polygon data) is stored in a special geometry field. That field can actually contain many coordinate pairs. radouxju's answer points out a way to access it in plain text via a special dialog, but attributes are properties of the geometry, not the geometry itself (though technically the geometry is an attribute of the record). If you already have coordinates as attributes, you can select the record, right-click the field, and use the Calculate X or Y options to fill it in. – Chris W Sep 28 '14 at 20:37
  • @KaylaBalderson I should also point out that if you move or otherwise change the points (or shapes/lines), such attribute fields will still hold the same value but it will then be incorrect unless updated. Only a couple of special fields, such as shape_length and shape_area depending on storage format (shapefile, geodatabase, etc.), are automatically updated. – Chris W Sep 28 '14 at 20:43

The coordinates in the attribute table are numeric values that are not linked with the geometry.

If you want to create a large number of points with exact coordinates, I suggest that you create a table with those coordinates, then use create an XY table event that you can merge with your existing shapefile.

If you need to move just a few points, then there is anonther icon just next to the one for editing attribute table (in the editor toolbar). This will allow you to update the coordinates of your vertices.

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Finally, you can press F6 during edit to enter a point with absolute coordinates.


For individual points, if you've already created the attributes in the table, you can assign geometry by selecting the entry and using the replace geometry tool in the advanced editing tool bar. (Start editing the feature and select the template in create features window.)

Advanced editing toolbar

Create the point using snap to vertices if relevant. Alternatively, move it to an absolute reference by right clicking with the Edit Vertices selection tool and selecting 'move to'.

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