How do I combine (join?) two overlapping polygons to determine the combined area they cover in ArcGIS 10?

I am sure the Geoprocessing tools can do it, but just how eludes me.

  • I think this Question needs to have a diagram added to make what it is asking clear.
    – PolyGeo
    Commented Dec 30, 2013 at 9:38

1 Answer 1


You're looking for the Dissolve tool - if all of your polygons are in the same featureclass/layer just run it and then use the Field Calculator to determine the area.

If your polygons are in different featureclasses, run the Merge or Append tool first.

  • Thanks for the reply. I know I'm nearly there not just quite yet. I have merged the polygons, but I can't seem to figure out what the Dissolve tool does. The merged polygon's attribute table only features the individual areas for the original polygons...
    – Tomm
    Commented Apr 16, 2013 at 0:38
  • I"m actually surprised that's the answer. If you're looking for the area of overlap of 2 overlapping polygons, I would think that Intersect would be your tool of choice. Commented Apr 19, 2013 at 11:46
  • 1
    @Clickinaway - Given how the question was phrased ("combine (join?) two overlapping polygons"), Dissolve seemed like the most suitable answer.
    – Radar
    Commented Apr 19, 2013 at 16:09

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