I am mapping Noxious weed infestations using point data in ArcMap 10.3. Each point has the square footage of the infestation listed in the "WeedArea" field in the attribute table. Depending on the situation, sometimes we need to display this using a standard Single Symbol point for each datapoint, and other times we want to display the data proportionally (using Symbology -> Quantities -> Proportional Symbols) so that the symbol for each point appears bigger or smaller based on the number of square feet reported for each point.

However, we have a lot of feature classes (one for each species) and need a way to simultaneously set the symbology for each of the feature classes without having to do it manually for each species. I have tinkered with the "Apply Symbology from Layer" tool and it allows me to copy symbology from another layer and set it for multiple layers at once, BUT this also copies the color from the source layer, so I have to go back and manually set each layer to have a distinct color.

Is there anyway to make a tool using scripting or just ModelBuilder that would allow me to change symbology of multiple featureclasses to a particular symbology without it giving each of the featureclasses an identical color?

I would like to make it so I can use this tool to go back and forth between the regular single symbol point display, and the proportional display - Ideally, while maintaining the same point color for each featureclass.

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    – Midavalo
    May 9, 2017 at 0:24
  • I don't believe there is a way to do this in arcpy (and there are a few Q&As here that say the same already). You could probably do it using ArcObjects. You can't change the symbology type using arcpy, and can't change the color either. I think the only thing you can do is apply from another layer (which you've already discovered) and check the type applied (read only) to assign different classifications to that symbol type.
    – Midavalo
    May 9, 2017 at 0:26
  • See gis.stackexchange.com/questions/89271/…
    – Midavalo
    May 9, 2017 at 0:27

1 Answer 1


One possible workaround would be to combine all your species features into a single feature class with a "scientific name" field, and have two layers from which to copy your preferred symbology, using the species (or family or whatever) as a subtype, then to use a script to simply copy that definition to the single feature class. Unless your different species have wildly different data, is there a reason to have separate feature classes for each one?

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