I think this is simple. I am looking for a way to convert the area of a selected feature to acres. The unit for my geodatabase is feet.

The ruler tool almost does it, but it only returns the top-most feature's area.

I've read lots about the calculate geometry functions in ArcMap, but that's for editing. I just want to see the area of the selected polygon feature, converted into another unit.

How can this be done?

  • 1
    Where do you want to see this area? In a popup like HTML Popup? Or in a window like Identify? Or somewhere else? It sounds like what you want is a custom popup tool of sorts.
    – Baltok
    Apr 17, 2013 at 14:19
  • I was hoping for it to come up in a window, or at the console. Nothing fancy. I'm learning python so I think I might be able to figure it out eventually. The program would basically: get selected feature area, convert to acres, print result.
    – Elliott
    Apr 19, 2013 at 15:00
  • It looks like I'd need a custom tool for this. As Dan C mentioned, its possible to make the conversions in a field. However, all I want to do is view the area. For that I'd have to program something. Thanks everyone for the suggestions.
    – Elliott
    Apr 24, 2013 at 13:59

1 Answer 1


You have to add an attribute field for the Area (in whatever units you want) to your layer first, and calculate the areas, before it will be available as a piece of data you can see when you're viewing the layer. A layer in a file geodatabase will already contain a field for the shape's area (Shape_Area) but if you want a different unit of measurement you need to add your own field.

  1. Right-click your layer and select Open Attribute Table.
  2. In the Table window, click the button in the upper-left corner (Table Options), select Add Field.
  3. Name the field whatever you like ("Acres"), set the Type to a number field with the level of precision you want. I'd just use Double. Click OK.
  4. Right-click the header of your new field, click Calculate Geometry, choose Area as the property, then Acres as the units. Click OK and your new field will be populated with the acreages of the polygons.

Important: this area is not automatically updated, if you edit the polygons, or add new ones, you'll need to recalculate. The Shape_Area field, on the other hand, is automatically updated if the layer is edited.

You can also install the Xtools Pro extension, it has many free features, one of them lets you easily add Perimeter, Length, and Area to your layer's attribute tables all at once, in whatever units you want.

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