I am trying to use an imported symbology from a layer file in ArcMap 10.2. However, the shapefile that I want to make a symbology for has two or three more values than are present in the imported legend. Whenever I want to add the new values and manually edit their symbols, the entire imported legend disappears and I end up with all new symbols.

Is it possible to add values and symbols to an imported legend?

I am using layer properties->categories->unique values in the layer properties window, same as in the layer file.

1 Answer 1


Add the new values with the Add Values button, not the Add ALL Values button. The add ALL values button will override the existing symbology and re-add all unique values whereas the Add Values button allows you to preserve the existing symbology and add new unique values not present in the Symbol list.

EDIT: Also, confirm that after importing symbology from layer file, the count of symbols is greater than 0. After import, you have to physically click the header to get the count. If the count beside each symbol is 0 then the values in the source layer file do not match any values in your destination layer. enter image description here


Based on our discussion, here is the process i recommend:

  1. Import layer file and hit the count header to ensure matching values exist enter image description here

  2. Click Add Values, Click the Complete list to ensure all possible values have already been added to symbology. Type in new value in the text box and click Add to List enter image description here

3.Once new value appears in the list, select it and click OK in the dialog enter image description here

  1. New additional value is now added to the existing symbol list without altering any existing values enter image description here

  2. Edit new value symbology as needed: enter image description here

  • Thanks, but this is exactly what I was doing. When I click 'add values', the box does not show additional values. After clicking 'complete list', I get the three additional values, but when adding them, again, the imported symbology is gone.
    – Renée
    Nov 18, 2014 at 13:59
  • After you import the layer file, click the "Count" heading in the Symbology list of the Symbology tab. Is the cound beside each symbol greater than zero? (See screen capture above) Nov 18, 2014 at 14:05
  • In the layerfile with the original legend it is, but in the new file certain labels do not contain polygons anymore. Of course I could manually adjust these labels to the three I need, that would solve the problem for now.
    – Renée
    Nov 18, 2014 at 14:11
  • Yes you have to. IN order to add new values, the layer has to already contain those values. Use the Add Values -> Add to List button to add non existing values. This way your original symbology is preserved and you can add new non-existing values. When editing and you add new features whose attributes match the new symbology they will inherit the newly created symbols. Alternatively, and this is the better way, you can setup Sybtypes in the parent geodatabase. Nov 18, 2014 at 14:16
  • I'm not sure if I understand what you mean. Do you think I should add the values in the layerfile (where the symbology should come from) or in the shapefile? Because the values without a symbol are already present in the shapefile. I added the values in the layerfile (although there are no shapes with these values), but when importing it, the new symbols do not show.
    – Renée
    Nov 18, 2014 at 14:34

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