I'm working in ArcGIS 10.1. Suppose that I have two polygon layers, A and B.

Polygons in layer B can have one of a few relationships to those in layer A:

  1. They may be completely contained by polygons in layer A
  2. They may intersect (be shared by) multiple polygons in layer A
  3. They may be completely contained but coextensive with those in layer A

I know of a number of ways to visually identify, or select for, these relationships, but I'm wondering if anyone has some idea of how I could write, to the attribute table of B, values from the unique ID of layer A based on these relationships?

FWIW, I'm working with the relationships among counties, county subdivisions, and places in the TIGER hierarchy -- i.e., where A = County Subdivisions and B = Places, and in turn where A = Counties and B = County Subdivisions. It's possible that I'm neglecting some of the potential relationships between A and B in the way I've laid out the list above.

Thanks in advance for any help you can provide!

1 Answer 1


You could try using the spatial join geo-processing tool to create separate datasets for each spatial relation. The trick here is not to ignore the drop down "Join Operation" and select the one to many option.

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