I wish to label overlapping polygons so that I can manually locate each overlap then review the attributes of each overlapping polygon and decide which suite of attributes to maintain before dissolving the polygons to ensure a dataset free of overlap. I know the manual review is time consuming but I cannot see another way of doing this if you don't know which attributes should be maintained before looking at the overlapping polygons.

I wish to be able to calculate the relational area of specific attributes within the dataset without biasing the analysis due to overlap. Ideally I would like a way to add a field that added a code (e.g. number) that would link each polygon with other polygons that it either entirely or partially overlaps with. Then I can determine which of these polygon's attributes to retain.

I have very large datasets with numerous different attributes. I use Arc10 with win7 64 bit processor and ArcInfo licence. Any ideas and help is greatly appreciated. Thanks

  • 2
    Are the overlapping polygons in one layer or 2? Oct 1, 2012 at 4:31

1 Answer 1


I think Intersect will enable you to quickly identify the overlaps and give you an attribute table that you can use to zoom from one overlap polygon to the next.

"Intersect can run with a single input. In this case, instead of discovering intersections between the features from the different feature classes or layers, it will discover the intersections between features within the single input. This can be useful to discover polygon overlap and line intersections (as points or lines)."

  • This keeps cropping up but I can't figure out how to use intersect to do what I need0 what am I missing?
    – Frangilu
    Oct 1, 2012 at 6:18
  • OK so is this correct? I use intersect with the layer added once. The output is a dataset of the duplicate polygons that I can Identify by viewing the area values which are identical for each overlapping polygon. I then edit this layer to manually dissolve each overlap to retain the desired attributes. However, the non-overlapping data from the original dataset is lost. I could add it back in using union, sorting by FID and including the -1 values from the original dataset. Seems like a complicated process for what I imagine would be a frequently required task!!!! Thanks
    – Frangilu
    Oct 1, 2012 at 6:43
  • Just run the Intersect tool with only one input feature class (i.e. the one that has some overlap between its polygons), and name your output feature class. Then look at your output feature class to see that every polygon in it has been created from an area of overlap. This feature class will let you find the locations of overlap but then to fix them you would edit the original feature class while making the decisions you describe in your Question.
    – PolyGeo
    Oct 1, 2012 at 6:43
  • Our comments crossed - my advice is only about finding the areas of overlap so you can manually address them.
    – PolyGeo
    Oct 1, 2012 at 6:44

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