I'm trying to create a multi-ring buffer around a shapefile of ~400 points in ArcMap 10.6.1 using the Multiple Ring Buffer tool. I need the buffers to be "doughnut style" not "swiss cheese" style, where the larger rings may overlap each other or with smaller rings but remain separate annulus-shaped features. The "Outside polygons only" option for this tool becomes grayed out as soon as I enter the points shapefile I want to use for buffering. Is there a way around this where the option is not grayed out? I would like to be able to use this simple checkbox. Because the larger rings overlap with the smaller rings, I can't use Erase to create the rings either.

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1 Answer 1


If you check the help in the tool you will see that the Outside Polygons Only option in the Multiple Ring Buffer tool works only for polygons and it is not activated for points or lines:

Input polygon:

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The workaround for this is to create individual buffers at various distances and then use Union tool to merge them all in one feature class. The Union tool will work as the difference tool and merge in the same time. This means it will keep the outside portion of the big polygon with no overlap with the smaller polygons.

  • Of course, I need to read the instructions better. The union thing would work with a low number of polygons, but with ~500 points x 9 distances, I gave up on running Union after it ran overnight and didn't finish. However, I found a workaround by using the 1km buffer polygon as the input to the Multiple Ring Buffer Tool and subtracted 1km from all the original distance intervals. Then the Outside Polygons Only option worked.
    – Mon Mo
    Nov 27, 2019 at 18:34

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