I have a shapefile that consists of a single polygon. I have gaps within the polygon that need to be eliminated. The resultant dataset shoulde be a single, solid polygon.

I have tried implementing topology rules (rule: must not have gaps) on the dataset (it's in a geodatabase and within a feature dataset), but I don't think this is the appropriate solution/technique to accomplish this task. Any ideas?

I'm on ArGIS 10 with an ArcInfo License.

  • to clarify, do you mean that the polygon has holes/donuts? To me, "gap" implies a mismatch between two adjacent polygons. Jan 5, 2012 at 23:04
  • yes, they are holes. I'll edit the title as this is a more accurate wording of the problem.
    – dchaboya
    Jan 5, 2012 at 23:05

3 Answers 3


The help file under Common Polygon Editing Tasks and the section Filling in donut holes in polygons may help.

You could also try the "must not have gaps" rule to actually find the donut polygons. I've had mixed success with automatically creating polygons to fill the gap, when using the Topology edit toolbar.

Either way, once you've filled the holes you could use the Merge or Dissolve tools to create a single polygon.

  • Great, this worked. After validating the topology, I selected all the errors within the Error Inspector, right-clicked the selection and selected Create Feature. I then used the Dissolve tool to create a single polygon.
    – dchaboya
    Jan 5, 2012 at 23:27
  • cool, glad that it worked. Creating the new feature automatically wasn't working consistently for me in a quick test I just did, but it has worked previously Jan 5, 2012 at 23:31

If you're just trying to do one or two manually, this solution worked for me.

Make sure you are in an active edit session, highlight the feature you want to edit, and look for the "edit vertices" toolbar. Select the "delete vertix" button, draw a box around the gaps, and then press delete.


Stephen's answer is definitely the best. Just looked at this in another context and if you only need to clean up a single feature, deleting parts of it in the Editor works like a charm:

Screen capture Edit Sketch properties window

  • Start Edit Mode (Editor)
  • Chose feature with Edit Tool Arrow
  • Open the Edit Sketch Properties Window
  • Doubleclick on the feature to enter the Edit Vertices Mode
  • Now the Edit Sketch Properties Window will be populated with the Parts existing in the Feature. Each hole is a different part.
  • Right Click on the parts/holes (e.g. "Part 0") you want to remove and select delete

This is also a great way to study the structure of shapefiles, in case of erroneous geometries etc.

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