I have two different files. The first file is from the United State Census. It is a file consisting of the census tracts for 1990. Each polygon has information that labels its census tract, namely a variable named "TRACTBNA".

The second file is from the King County GIS office. It is a shapefile of all the property parcels within King County. Each polygon has a unique PIN (parcel identification number).

Both the parcels and census tracts are polygons. I need each PIN or polygon from the second file to be given a TRACTBNA. I used join by using the join and relates, and choosing "join data from another layer based on spatial location". I also chose the second option.

I exported the data as dbf and I opened it with Excel. I find that not every parcel was given a TRACTBNA, in other words it is empty.

My guess is that some parcels may not lie completely inside a single polygon, and those aren't spatially joined. I don't care if it randomly selects one of the polygons it intersects, as long as all of them receive something.

I am using ArcGIS.

1 Answer 1


You need to use Spatial Join from ArcToolbox:

ArcToolbox -> Analysis Tools -> Overlay -> Spatial Join

Then input the first polygon in the Target Feature and second polygon as Join Feature. In the Match Option use intersect (default) if you only need the PIN number without considering to be exactly inside the first polygon.

  • Thanks for the input. I found the problem wasn't with ArcGIS, but was with how I was formatting the output in STATA.
    – mphensley1
    Apr 14, 2016 at 19:42

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