When I try to create a shapefile two of the boxes to fill in are "name of the attribute" and " shapefile name".

This may be very basic but I can't find and answer. I want to fill them in correctly. What are their purposes and what should one put in them? Why are their two names for the file?

2 Answers 2


Every shapefile needs to have two things inside the file: the geography data (this is stored in binary form in the .shp file) and the at least one column/field that holds the name of each object. All the data in the fields are stored in the dbf file.

You can eventually have many fields/columns of many different types, but when creating a shapefile from scratch you need to provide the name of the required field.


Shapefile name is self explanatory I think.

Name of attribute is the name of at least one field to go in the shapefile's data table (dbf file). Like a database table, each shapefile must have one or more fields, therefore this is enforced on creation. Commonly, each shapefile will have fields such as an id (usually numeric), name and other attributes that will depend on the specific dataset. Each spatial object represented by the shapefile will have a corresponding row in the dbf file, representing the object attributes.

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