I need to symbolize features in a feature class with two colors thus defining what features have positive (>0) and negative (<0) values. The only two ways I found this to be possible are:

To use a static field with the values calculated beforehand


Use definition queries using two identical layers in the TOC.

Since it is more time consuming to update labels for two layers, I have approached this problem in another way by using Graduated colors symbol setting with two classes (Manual classification). I have added two extra features in the feature classes with really big and really small values (to cover possible values that can come later on while the feature class will be edited) and then edited the intervals in the Range columns in the Symbology tab of the Layer Properties. Afterwards, those two features are deleted.

Now features' values will fall within these two ranges and will be symbolized properly. enter image description here

Considering the need to update multiple documents with these settings and having different datasets as layers, are there any other approaches (without using Python to automate the hack described above)? All other GIS.SE posts I've found so far refer to the methods outlined above.

  • 1
    Are you using ArcGIS 10.1 or 10.2? I think this may be easier there than st 10.0.
    – PolyGeo
    Nov 4, 2013 at 19:31
  • @PolyGeo, I am on 10.2. Nov 4, 2013 at 21:40

1 Answer 1


You may use a point, line, and polygon layer file as long as you have a common symbolizing field between layers and that there are no other labeling and/or other layer properties that may change from using a layer file.

As your searches have revealed the automated option would be to create a python script to loop through your directories/map documents and make the specific layer symbology updates. It is a matter of weighing out task frequency, learning curve of python, or manually performing the task.

  • Using .lyr files would be a good alternative. Just cannot believe it is not available directly when classifying the data. Thought that I have just missed some option. Nov 4, 2013 at 21:42

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