So I've started working for a company where people use background data like rivers, buildings, roads and so on a lot. The data is used all over the country, so I have to download a lot of data for each municipalities in my country.

I want to set up a layer file, so that i.e builing data have the same symbology all over, even though it might be 100 different shapefiles for this data. I want all maps to have the same color code and symbology, even if I update the data twice a year, or the shapefiles are from different areas.

What is a good approach for this problem?

1 Answer 1


Assuming that all your shapefiles have the same schema, all you need to do is to:

  1. Add one of the shapefiles to ArcMap and set the layer properties that you want - this can be more than Symbology properties is you wish.
  2. Save the layer as a Layer File by right-clicking on it.
  3. Every time you want to use a new or updated shapefile just add it to a map and then set its data source (on the Source tab of Properties) to that new or updated shapefile.
  • Thank you. What do you mean by same schema? And, are there any sites for good usage of color? Like what kinds of grey goes well together in a map and so on? Oct 3, 2015 at 11:33
  • Schema just means having all the same attributes. The other questions are best researched separately because our Tour specifies just that just one question be asked per question here.
    – PolyGeo
    Oct 3, 2015 at 14:07

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