I would like to quantify the percentage area covered by different categorical values (A, B, C, D, E, F, G) within each cell. The cells are defined by layer_1 while the categorical values are in layer_2.

Is there a specific tool or tool combination that I can use in ArcGIS to achieve this?

Hopefully the image gives a good example of what I mean.

I am looking at the spatial join tool + pivot tool to see if this can be done.

I am running ArcGIS 10.3.1 for Desktop (Advanced) with extensions for Spatial Analyst, XTools Pro and Geostatistical Analyst.

enter image description here

  • 1
    There are several ways to do this. My choice would be to use the Intersect tool, and then an ArcPy cursor, but someone else may offer a non-coding way.
    – PolyGeo
    Sep 16, 2016 at 1:40
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    If you have vector data, then Tabulate Intersection and Pivot table is the way...
    – fatih_dur
    Sep 16, 2016 at 1:45
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    Please see this, pro.arcgis.com/en/pro-app/tool-reference/analysis/…, even the drawings are the same :)
    – fatih_dur
    Sep 16, 2016 at 1:46
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    I think @fatih_dur means desktop.arcgis.com/en/arcmap/latest/tools/analysis-toolbox/… (because you are using ArcMap rather than ArcGIS Pro - doc may or may not be identical) - but Tabulate Intersection needs an Advanced level license.
    – PolyGeo
    Sep 16, 2016 at 1:55
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    You are right @PolyGeo, it has become Google's default search order behaviour, Pro at the top and then you need to scroll down to find right or LATEST desktop version. I can confirm that the documentation and the the tool's working as identical to what desktop version says. OP indicated having an advanced licence of 10.3.1!
    – fatih_dur
    Sep 16, 2016 at 2:02

1 Answer 1


Since you have Advanced license, I think the easiest solution is to use @fatih_dur's solution. But you have to make sure you don't have overlapping polygons, as this will produce larger areas than actual.

Personally, I prefer to use Tabulate Area to avoid the problem of overlapping polygons. Also this solution might be efficient in case of the absence of ArcGIS Advanced License. To use Tabulate Area, you need Spatial Analyst license, and you need to convert the categorical polygons into raster with cell size of fair resolution. It will calculate the area under each polygon grid. However, the grid should be polygon feature class not polyline.

  • +1 i also like tabulate area tool, however it won't handle overlapping zones, polygons because internally arcgis converts them to raster
    – FelixIP
    Sep 16, 2016 at 4:26

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