I am trying to draw some rectangles in a polygon layer, to be used to highlight points for checking, and will be used in Data Driven Pages.

I want these to be horizontally aligned, however the "Rectangle" Construction Tool uses the direction you start drawing.

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As a result I have to select the Rectangle construction tool, click on the map to start drawing the polygon, right-click > Direction > 0 to restrict it to drawing east/west (horizontal), and then draw the rectangle.

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I have many of these I need to draw, so having all these extra clicks and keypresses seems excessive when I just want to draw a rectangle!

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How can I efficiently create horizontally aligned polygons in ArcMap?

1 Answer 1


Press the Tab key!

Start editing and choose the Rectangle construction tool as normal. Then press Tab. This will put the ArcMap Rectangle tool into straight (horizontal/vertical) align mode. It will stay in this mode for the Rectangle tool until you either press Tab again while using the tool, or you close ArcMap.

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Because it stays in the straight mode you can just keep drawing new rectangles, so eliminates the need for the continuous key/button presses while you add more rectangles. Even if you stop editing and come back to it later, it will still draw the straight rectangles.

See Creating a rectangle feature:

  • Keyboard Shortcut: TAB

    Press TAB to orient the rectangle straight (vertical or horizontal at 90-degree angles) rather than rotated. This enters a mode where all the rectangles you create will be straight. Press TAB again to exit this mode and create rectangles with a rotation angle.

  • This is a useful tip! Will have to remember this one. It seems you already new the answer when you asked the question. ;) Jun 19, 2017 at 17:38
  • 2
    @Matthew Actually no, I was half way through writing the question when I found the answer, so decided to finish the question and self-answer it
    – Midavalo
    Jun 19, 2017 at 17:39
  • Nice, I did it through draw toolbar, very annoying
    – FelixIP
    Jun 19, 2017 at 20:52

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