I am at the end of a small project: conversion of a shapefile with a large number of features, therefore huge dbf table. The initial shapefile, after processing, ends up with fields of A, B, C, D, E, F etc. And now I want certain fields of them, about 20. But I want their name to be different, say a, b, c, d etc.

I know I can manually alter the field name but it's gonna be very time consuming and sort of silly.

My approach in mind is I will try to create a feature class of a shapefile with fields a, b, c, d but no features, therefore empty, and then use Append to kind of "assign" the A, B, C, D fields in the first shapefile to the a, b, c, d fields of the second shapefile instead of changing names of 30 fields one by one.

Is this doable? If so, how shall I create an empty shapefile with the fields that I need? Is there any better solution to this situation?

1 Answer 1


Yes the approach you suggest is sensible. I would use ArcCatalog. Create a new geodatabase FEATURE CLASS (not a shapefile) and during the create step IMPORT the fields from the other dataset. Before you accept them and create the feature class, edit the field names then finally press finish. You can then do your Append, optionally export to shapefile, but remember if your final product is to be a shapefile you need to stick to 10 characters or less.

Importing fields from another dataset

The import fields option does not appear to be available to shapefiles.

  • Thanks a lot. Trying it now. By the way, can I put the step of creating a new geodatabase feature class in the model builder? Sep 8, 2016 at 14:28
  • You could but YOU need to interactively edit the field names to what ever, that would not work well in model builder.
    – Hornbydd
    Sep 8, 2016 at 14:43
  • I see, appreciated. Could I just do this and then export it to shapefile? Because all I need is the fields that I want to have different names. For me that's pretty much what I use Append for Sep 8, 2016 at 14:44
  • Yes. You don't even need to run the append tool if you right click on the newly created feature class you can go to Load > Load data.
    – Hornbydd
    Sep 8, 2016 at 14:47
  • If you have just created the featureclass using ArcCatalog its there right in front of you...
    – Hornbydd
    Sep 8, 2016 at 15:05

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