I am currently searching for how to create an "Inner Buffer" in ArcGIS for Desktop?

I have a lot of polygons (houses) in one feature class, and one big polygon (in another feature class).

I want so select all houses contained in that one big polygon within a distance to the outer border (e.g. 1000 meters).

Select Layer By Location could be one possibility to solve this but I can't figure out how.

2 Answers 2


The steps to do this are:

  1. Select your layer by clicking on it

  2. From the Editor toolbar, select Start Editing

  3. On the Editor Menu, select Buffer

  4. Write a Negative Distance Amount to create an inside buffer...

Without Inner Buffer:


With Inner Buffer:

with buffer


Select by Location with negative 1000m buffer, switch selection, select by location "Within" again from reversed selection set

Step 1:

  • Selection method: Select Features From (default)
  • Target Layer: Houses
  • Source Layer: Big Polygon
  • Spatial Selection Method: Target layers(s) features intersect the Source layer feature (default)
  • Apply a search distance = -1000m

Step 2:

Once you obtain the selection set (only features inside the "big polygon" and that are located 1000m from the boundary will be now selected): SWITCH SELECTION

There are a few ways to switch (reverse) selection; for example, right click on the layer in the TOC --> Selection --> Switch Selection

Step 3:

Use Select by location on the reversed selection set:

  • Selection method: Select from currently selected features in
  • Target Layer: Houses
  • Source Layer: Big Polygon
  • Spatial Selection Method: Target layers(s) features are completely within the Source layer feature
  • NO Buffer is applied in this search

The resulting selection set will contain all features that are completely within the "Big Polygon" and whose boundary is less then 1000m from its boundary.

  • +1 since this can be easily scripted or modeled in ModelBuilder; for step 2, the Select Layer by Attributes tool can be used to just switch the selection
    – blah238
    May 7, 2012 at 16:51

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