I have exported several dozen shapefiles (CRS ESPG:4326/WGS-84) from Manifold GIS and validated the geography in QGIS. Am now editing the attribute tables in QGIS to have just two fields, an ID column and a PARCEL column. These are mostly all single line or polygon shapefiles.

Some exports lacked a .dbf file and thus have no attribute table. Finding no method to create an attribute table in QGIS, I tested coping/pasting/renaming a .dbf file from a closely related shape export into three shapes lacking .dbf files. Then opened and edited the resulting attribute tables. The results are geographically correct with the desired attribute tables. Is this an appropriate method to create a missing .dbf file? Are there problems?

Past posts have recommended Open Office software for fixing shape .dbf files. But recent posts indicate that Open Office updates have removed that capability.

  • You might try one of the shapefile repair utilities linked in support.esri.com/en/technical-article/000007161 . They even work outside ARCGIS. BTW Creating a new field with the field calculator and Save As ... to a new file name recreates an empty dbf file too.
    – AndreJ
    Commented Sep 15, 2017 at 5:57

1 Answer 1


As a rule, random data is bad. You should be putting more effort into why the dBase files failed to create.

That said, and despite misinformation that continues to be spread about the purpose of the .shx file, you can create a one (or more) field dBase III file with the appropriate record count (exactly equal) and file name (identical except for suffix), and you will have "salvaged" the geometry.

You should not be under the illusion that this is anything other than a partial recovery from an extraordinary (and hopefully infrequent) data management failure.

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