I have two shapefiles that I want to merge.
One is of polygons, the other is a point file.

The polygons are missing information in the attribute table that the point file has. In general, the two line up pretty well, but others are not so exact.
What would be the most efficient way of merging these two shapefiles to have all of the information I need?

More information: I'm working on a historic mapping of my University's campus. The current edition has a point file for the buildings around campus, with years built, razed, building name, etc.

I want to instead use a polygon file and have building footprints. I contacted the university, and was given a shapefile that has the footprints.

However, none of the building have any information associated with them, including the name or building number.
My goal is to be able to name the building footprints in the most efficient way possible.

The problem is, there are no matching fields, and the only matching information I have is the actual location.

  • 1
    It's not possible to merge point and polygon geometries in the same shapefile (the shapefile format only permits Nil shapes to coexist with any of the other types [point, line, poly, multipoint, point-Z,...]). You'll need to provide more information before someone could help you resolve this conflict.
    – Vince
    Commented Jun 22, 2015 at 16:22
  • How many points and polygons are you working with? About how many don't line up? Commented Jun 22, 2015 at 16:31
  • There are 628 points and 1265 polygons. I don't know how many don't line up, simply because many of the buildings no longer exist, and the polygons I have are from 2011 only, while the points are over a span of 150 years.
    – Baconv3
    Commented Jun 22, 2015 at 16:36
  • 1
    what is your preferred software? In ArGIS you would use the spatial Join command
    – Brad Nesom
    Commented Jun 22, 2015 at 16:39
  • Duplicate of gis.stackexchange.com/questions/142665 at least for the question title. As for the rest of it, spatial join as mentioned. There are different ways to do the join, and options can vary how things turn out - duplicating footprints if multiple points match, or just taking the first one, etc. The Spatial Join GP tool Udderly's answer mentions provides significantly more options/control than the right-click method @mateo mentions in that answer.
    – Chris W
    Commented Jun 28, 2015 at 0:06

4 Answers 4


You can't merge points to polygons, but certainly a spatial join will merge the attributes of the two, no?
enter image description here

You can right click on the polygon layer and choose (in Arcmap) join. Then in the "VERY" top pulldown choose join based on location.

Then choose the point file for the features to join.

You can then choose to have all the nearest points joined with a distance or only one point joined.
NOTE: that if you have more than 1 point inside a polygon you will have a lot of cleanup to do.


As @Mateo hinted you can use a spatial join to join attributes from one shapefile/feature class to another. Use the "Spatial Join" tool which can select a feature layer based on the location to another feature layer (assuming you have a license for the tool), you will probably want to choose the option for join one to many (assuming the polygons are your target features and the points are your join features). The match option that is likely the best for your situation is completely_contains.

Additionally, you may want to consider setting up a topology if what you are truly interested in is the interrelation between the two shapefiles/features or their relationship with other shapefiles/features.



I ran into a similar situation and solved it by creating a Buffer polygon around the points that I wanted. This converts it from a point to a polygon while retaining the attributes and makes it possible to merge or join with another polygon.


you can use buffer.then join attribute point to buffer use spatial join.

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