Is there an easy to calculate the width of a polygon using ArcGIS 9.3.1 or 10?

I found some scripts for 9.1 but they will not work. I can use width at widest point, narrowest point, or an average. It does not need to be exact but needs to be somewhat automated because I have a couple hundred to calculate.


3 Answers 3


The width of polygon can be obtained using a minimum area bounding rectangle. This link... bounding containers...a provides one solution. Calculate this as the minimum of the "length" and "width" of the rectangle. It is available at all license levels for ArcMap (updated to Jan 2016)

  • This answer is 5 years old. Have there been any updates to ArcGIS or any other methods to do this since the posting of this answer?
    – dassouki
    Commented Sep 16, 2015 at 18:35
  • 1
    @Dassouki Dan Patterson (who posted elsewhere in this thread) has been coding these kinds of solutions for years. He is the first place I would go to look for updates and new solutions in ArcGIS.
    – whuber
    Commented Sep 16, 2015 at 20:27
  • @whuber updated the link... thanks for the heads up
    – user681
    Commented Jan 25, 2016 at 23:23

This is only a partial answer to your question, but it may be a pointer in the right direction. To clarify, this will will find the width of the polygon envelope at the widest point. Add an attribute with field type double to your feature. Open the field calculator, then click on Advanced. Paste this code into the code block, and set the field that you created equal to Ouput

Dim Output As Double
Dim pPoly as IPolygon
Set pPoly = [Shape]
Dim pEnve as IEnvelope
Set pEnve = pPoly.Envelope
Output = pEnve.Width

Works in 9.3.1. Originally posted here.

  • This seems to be the width of the envelope: that does not seem to be what the OP is asking.
    – whuber
    Commented Oct 25, 2010 at 15:07
  • I edited my answer to clarify that, thanks for pointing it out. The original question did say that it did not need to be exact, so the width of the envelope may be sufficient.
    – Zachary
    Commented Oct 25, 2010 at 15:42
  • 1
    The width of the envelope is about as inexact as one can get, unfortunately. For instance, when the feature is aligned with its width in a vertical direction, the "width" of the envelope actually estimates the feature's length. Your idea of exploiting the envelope's width has been used in code that systematically rotates the feature in a search for the minimum envelope width: in many cases this has a legitimate claim to be a reasonable estimate of width. I believe Dan Patterson has a contribution of this nature on ArcScripts.
    – whuber
    Commented Oct 25, 2010 at 16:05

This video explains how to do it with the minimum bounding geometry tool.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.