I have a map of small remnants of forest along creeks for an entire county in California. I need to divide the whole map into equal sections so I can print it so you can actually see the sections of forest. I'd like a map with a grid which I can look at, and then look at a zoomed in map of (for example) section A1.

I've tried the Grids and Graticules wizard, which gives me a grid for the map, but when I zoom, the grid remains the same. I want the grid sections to be georeferenced with the map, so when I zoom in, the grid zooms also.

I'm using ArcMap 10.1.

5 Answers 5


Read about Data Driven Pages. Between a strip map or an indexed map with a fishnet grid you will have a map series that will be exactly what you're looking for.


Create a fishnet http://help.arcgis.com/en/arcgisdesktop/10.0/help/index.html#//00170000002q000000

If you want to actually split the data, you need to do some sort of intersect.

  • Ok thanks! I think I need to do a fishnet and then Data Driven pages.
    – linnea_n
    Commented Jul 9, 2013 at 22:29

Use Data Driven pages to automate map production using an existing grid. If you actually want to cut up your data into zones then consider using the Split tool but this needs an ArcInfo (Advance) license.


At ArcGIS 10.3 (or even earlier probably) there are two useful tools for splitting up large complex polygons. DICE will cut up large polygons to make them draw faster and process quickly because a spatial index is more effective with smaller features.

There is also a related tool CartographicPartitions which creates a grid for too many points in a featureclass. You can then use the grid to select subsets for processing in a series. This tool is built into a number of cartographic tools such as Intersect.

  1. Navigate to arc toolbox
  2. Select cartography tools then data driven pages
  3. Select grid index features
  4. Select input feature
  5. Units for polygon width and height
  6. Click okay

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