I know this should be such a simple task and I looked around but could not find a satisfactory / dead simple answer.

I am creating a point layer and needs to draw a row of points. How would I go about making sure that these points are aligned? Something like hold shift key and it'll align it to the nearest points?

Doing this in ArcGIS Desktop 10.2.2 aka ArcMap. Layer is stored in PostgreSQL 9.2.9 / PostGIS 2.1.3.

  • 1
    Before we go any further, is your PostgreSQL installation ArcGIS Server enabled? Or, are you loading this layer in as a Query Layer into ArcGIS Desktop? I ask this question to start because Query Layers in ArcGIS are Read Only. You will need to do your editing in another GIS package if this is the case. If you are storing the layer in ArcGIS server, or I am missing something, feel free to clarify. Dec 5, 2014 at 23:39
  • 1
    A lot of points, repetitive task? Dead simple are the right-click drawing tools such as distance/direction some answers point out. Or draw a line you want them aligned to, then draw circles with desired spacing radius, snapping new circle centers to intersections. Then draw your points and snap to intersections of the circles and lines.
    – Chris W
    Dec 6, 2014 at 0:10
  • @GetSpatial Layer is editable! I've already enabled geodatabase support.
    – janechii
    Dec 6, 2014 at 0:25

5 Answers 5


Assuming that based on the question in my comment above, you are able to edit your layer in ArcMap, there is a direct way of creating points that are in a common alignment.

  1. Start editing the layer
  2. Create your first point
  3. In order to create your next point, in the Create Features popup, instead of choosing Point in the Construction Tools, choose Point at end of line. This will allow you to create a point at the end of a line sketch that you designate. The line can be at the direction and distance of your choice. This can be easier than the Direction/Distance tool because you do not have to remember the exact angle that your line is located on. Point at end of line
  4. Create the line sketch using your initial point as the beginning. Right click to choose direction and length. [EDIT] It is worth noting that you do not have to enter specific direction and length. You may use a mouse click to pick them. It depends on whether you want to have a specific direction, and/or consistent distance between points. Direction and length entry
  5. Right click to end the sketch, and the point will be created at the end. Right click to end sketch Point 2 created
  6. For the next and future points, use the Point at end of line, and create the sketch based on the direction of the first two points, adding a vertice at the 2nd point. For the final segment, where you want to place the 3rd point, use the Deflection option Deflection option
  7. Choose a value of 0.
    Deflection angle 0
  8. This will continue the next segment of the sketch in the same angle as the first segment.
    Constrained Line
  9. You can then specify the length, finish the sketch, and the point will be created at the end.
    Specify Length Sketch segment completed Finish sketch and point created

Here is the ESRI Help document discussing creating a point at the end of a line.
Create a point feature at the end of a line you sketch.

If you are creating a large number of points in a row, there are other ways that will be less time-consuming. One way would be to create a line and then use the command to Create new points along a line, at a specified interval.
Creating new points along a line

  • Other answers here were also great! But this one fits my needs best, thank you for the thorough answer!
    – janechii
    Dec 8, 2014 at 18:25

I would draw them in using the distance direction tool. You can specify the angle you want to draw them at by pressing "D" and typing it in, then press "D" again to enter the distance.

If you use the same direction and distance you can create an evenly spaced set of points along any azimuth you choose.


(Edit: The distance direction method mentioned in the other answer sounds like the way to go. Here is more detailed help on how to use that method. However, for a huge number of points on a line I would use the Distance Direction method to create a two point line at the angle you want with a length that is the multiple of the spacing distance you want and the number of points you want minus 1, then use the Densify method with the distance parameter set to the spacing distance you multiplied by, then convert to points using the All option of the Feature Vertices to Point tool and finally copy/paste or append the points to the point feature class. These steps could create hundreds or thousands of points on a straigh line in that many steps).

As far as I know you cannot align them with any key operations or tools that use graphic style alignment methods (align horizontal/vertical, distribute evenly, etc). You can create graphic points, use the graphic align tools to space them and align them and then convert them to features in a new shapefile/feature class. Then you can copy/paste them in an edit session or append them with the Append tool from the new shapefile/feature class into your existing point shapefile/feature class.

Alternatively you could create a two point line feature and use the Densify tool on the line to create evenly spaced vertices on the line. Then use the Feature Vertices to Points tool to extract all vertices as points. Then copy/paste or append them to your point feature class.

For existing points you could create a line feature and snap the existing points to the line using snapping or topology. You could use a densified two point line and vertex snapping to get the existing points to snap to the evenly spaced vertices along the straight line. To make a line feature segment constrained to a certain angle you can use the angle and length segment editing method described here.

  • Thanks for introducing the Densify Tool to me :) I can already see future usage for this!
    – janechii
    Dec 8, 2014 at 18:28

1) Make them in excel would be easiest.

2) In ArcGIS right click while editing and you have bearing and distance options, so 90,90 would give you a bearing of 90 an d90 units..

3) Make a line between two points and create points (via vertices) every x distance.

I would just do (1) and verify the x by your desired unit why holding y constant.


All are inside Editor toolbar in ArcGIS. Other option is to draw a line, then 'Construct points' at fixed measurements or evenly spaced. Also can split the line with one of the options and then convert to points. Can use 'Copy parallel' to create a fishnet. Also have 'Create fishnet' tool to create rectangular grids of points for a more complex situation, then delete points than you don't need.

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