Say I have two layer files. Layer file 1 has symbology for feature types A, B & C. Layer file 2 has symbology for feature types B, C & D. In these two layer files, feature types B & C are the same and have the same symbology. If I merge these two layer files, I get Feature Class 3 with feature types A, B, C & D.

How can I get all 4 feature types in Feature Class 3 with the "correct" symbology?

  • A: symbolised from Layer 1
  • B: symbolised from Layer 1 OR Layer 2
  • C: symbolised from Layer 1 OR Layer 2
  • D: symbolised from Layer 2

I hope that's clear.

In the real world I have about a dozen layer files each with several dozen feature types, with an unknown level of overlap, so I'm looking for the quickest, least manual way of doing this.

I know that using a Style, then symbolising by Matching Symbols to a Style is the "correct" way of doing this. However I don't have access to the style used to create these layers, and I really don't want to have to manually save every single symbol from every single layer to a new style. However, if it's done once, then it's done forever, so it's not out of the question. If anyone knows of an easy way of generating a Style file from one or more layers, that would be much appreciated as well.

Something in the back of my mind tells me it might also be possible to do this using Cartographic Representations. I don't know how to go about it, and I suspect it would be massive overkill, but if it's the best way, I'll take it.

I'm pretty sure there's no easy way to do this, but I just want to confirm I'm not missing something. Any suggestions appreciated! Many thanks!

1 Answer 1


I'd recommend exporting the symbols to a style via the "Export Map Styles..." command from the customize dialog (Customize menu > Customize mode > Commands tab > Tools category). This command will export all the styles in the map to style items with the name of the attribute value that corresponds to the symbol. You can then use it in Match Symbols to a Style.

  • Bloody brilliant. Exactly what I was hoping someone could tell me. If there's one thing about ArcGIS it's that "there's a button to do it... you've just got to find the button". This is definitely going in my tips & tricks folder! Cheers!
    – ThomM
    Feb 3, 2012 at 5:54

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