Is it possible to have a single point feature associated with multiple records in an attribute table?

For example, if I had a shapefile of type POINT containing 100 points indicating fire hydrants but I wanted the attribute table to contain records of all use of the fire hydrants, such that when I clicked on say fire hydrant #80, it selects all the records in the attribute table with use of fire hydrant #80.

I've not tried this yet, but as I understand it, the relationship is 1:1 (1 feature to 1 record). In the given example, if I had 100 features but the attribute table had 500 records, I believe that would be an invalid shapefile correct? The only way to resolve this is to "overlap" features, such that when it appears I am selecting a single feature, there are really, for example, 6 features representing fire hydrant #80 on top of one another. If possible, I would like to not do that kind of workaround.

  • No, it's not possible. While a shapefile has multiple files, it is a single logical record. It's possible establish relationships in more sophisticated formats like file geodatabase, where a single tower can have multiple transmitters and every transmitter must have a tower, but that's different.
    – Vince
    Commented Feb 13, 2019 at 0:56
  • @Vince Yea I was trying to avoid writing a .gdb since its a proprietary format. Looks like my "workaround" is the only visual way to accomplish this.
    – pstatix
    Commented Feb 13, 2019 at 0:58

1 Answer 1


Assuming that you are using ArcGIS, you can relate a table to create a one to many relationship. The relationship is stored in the map document.

There's no need to create a geodatabase, but that is another option, of course.

Here is a good link summarizing the different ways to link data to map features in ArcGIS: http://desktop.arcgis.com/en/arcmap/10.3/manage-data/tables/about-joining-and-relating-tables.htm

  • A relationship class desktop.arcgis.com/en/arcmap/10.3/manage-data/relationships/… can be created in a geodatabase relating a single geometry row (feature) to multiple rows in a separate table.. this makes the relationship permanent so it's not gone as soon as you close the MXD, however you still have the option of opening the feature class and/or table without the relationship class in ArcMap. Commented Feb 13, 2019 at 1:18

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.