Up and Running with ArcGIS
Illustration by John Hersey

Up and Running with ArcGIS

with Adam Wilbert

Video: Viewing attribute tables

ArcGIS is built on the idea of adding Now on the very bottom, you'll see that this has Okay, so, I'm going to choose this option down here on the bottom, that says show Then I scroll right a little bit further, and about three This is the population of each of those cities.

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Watch the Online Video Course Up and Running with ArcGIS
3h 13m Beginner Mar 11, 2014

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Get up and running with ArcGIS, a true geographic information system (GIS) that allows you to dig into highly accurate geospatial data in a way other mapping applications can't compete with. It's great creating maps, analyzing data for land use studies and other reports, and preparing data for use in an application or database. Let Adam Wilbert show you how to display, analyze, and illustrate geospatial data with ArcGIS. He explores how to import data from multiple sources, manage it with the ArcGIS catalog, and then start making maps. Learn how to lay out your data in the ArcMap component; add symbols, scale bars, and legends; and get your maps out of ArcGIS and into the real world, whether it's for printing or export to another application.

Topics include:
  • Understanding vector vs. raster data
  • Modifying metadata
  • Adding data to a map
  • Importing data from online providers
  • Labeling features
  • Joining data
  • Clipping data to a study area
  • Working with map layouts
  • Creating a legend
  • Printing and exporting the map to a file
Business Developer IT
Adam Wilbert

Viewing attribute tables

ArcGIS is built on the idea of adding location information to data found in a relational database. So far we've drawn the location information on the screen such as the country boundaries, and the points representing populated places. We've also briefly touched on the idea of finding additional information about each feature using the Identify tool. But behind the scenes, behind every feature on your map, is an entire database of information about each and every element. In order to get to that database, we need to right click on the feature class that we want. So I'll right click on populated places and we'll choose Open Attribute Table.

The Attribute Table opens up as a separate pane that we can dock just like every other window on Arc Map. We can also resize the screen if we choose not to dock it here, just by dragging on the edges. Now on the very bottom, you'll see that this has a tab interface, right now it says Populated Places down here. If I were to open up a second attribute table, for instance I'll right click on the Airport and say, Open Attribute Table, you'll see that that gets its own tab down here. And I can switch back and forth between the attributes for Airports and the attributes for Populated Places. I'm going to right click on the Airports one, and say Close. On the bottom of the attributes table, we can see some records selectors down here in the bottom.

And I can scroll through my various records, and you'll see that they move down to this list here. I can go to the very end or I can jump back to the very beginning here. This button here will show me all the records that are at my Attribute Table, and the next one over will show me only the selected records, and if I choose that option you'll see that you don't get any attributes at all because I don't have any selected features. So if I make a selection, let me move this out of the way a little bit, and using my Select Features tool. I'll go over here, and I'll just select a couple of cities here, hold down the Shift key, and maybe select a couple of others on this west coast of the United States.

You can see that I've selected six cities out of 7,322 possible cities on my map. I can see their attributes right here. Now, if I go through and choose Show All Records, it'll show me all the records for all the cities. And I can switch back and forth between showing all the records and showing only the selected records here. Let's go back and show all the records. At the very top of the screen, I have some options here to show me some related data tables if I had any. In this case, we don't have any. I can select by attributes which will open up the same window as for going to the Selection Menu and then select by Attributes here.

So it'll open up the same option there to make selections. I can also switch the selection, and if I choose that option it'll deselect the ones that I have currently selected, and it'll reselect all the ones that aren't selected. It's a little bit hard to see here at the zoom scale so if I zoom in to that west coast, you'll see that here and there I have a couple that aren't selected anymore. Those are the ones that previously were selected. And I can switch that back and forth here. The next option over will clear all of the selected points, and then finally I can zoom into the selected features here. So if I press zoom, it'll zoom the map in to include all the current features that are currently selected.

Okay, so, I'm going to choose this option down here on the bottom, that says show selected records, and I can see some details about those points that I had selected previously. If I scroll across we'll see that there's lots of different attributes for these populated places. I'm going to find the one called Maine it's towards the beginning here, and I'm going to right click on that header at the very top. This'll give me some options here for what to do with these fields. I can do a sort on them. Basically, I can sort them ascending or descending alphabetically. So if I sort them ascending I can see the Crescent City is the first one alphabetically and Vallejo is the last one alphabetically.

I can also right click on this and say freeze or unfreeze column. When you freeze a column it jumps to the very beginning of the attribute list and so as I scroll through here, all the other attributes scroll beside it but it doesn't scroll off the screen so I can see it at the same time. Then I scroll right a little bit further, and about three quarters of the way down, we'll find another option called GN Population. Here it is here. This is the population of each of those cities. I'm going to right click on it, and say freeze as well, so it goes to the beginning of the list. And maybe I'll make my table a little bit wider so we can see some more things.

Now here in there there's going to be some attributes that we don't need to see. For instance, admin one code, and feature code. Maybe I don't need to see these in the attribute table. I can right click on those, and say Turn Off Field, and if I right click on them they'll disappear from the attribute list. Now once I've removed fields from the attribute list how do I get them back? So in order to get them back, what I need to do is go over to the table of contents, right click on that particular layer, the populated places, and go down to Properties. In the Properties window, I'll go to the Fields tab here, and we'll see all the different fields for this attribute table.

And if I scroll down the list, you'll see the ones that I've turned off have no check mark. I can either turn them back on here, or I can turn other ones off as well, so that's how I get those fields back once I've removed them from the attribute table. We'll go ahead and turn them all back on and close the layer properties window. Now, one other thing that I can do with numerical data, if I right click on for instance, this GN population one. I can go down to Statistics, here. That'll give me a couple of different things. I can take a look at the particular field that I've clicked on, and I can get a count of how many records there were, in this case six.

And I can see the minimum and maximum population, the sum total population across all six cities. The mean standard deviation, and how many null values there were. I also get a frequency distribution chart, showing me how many cities there were in each population category. I'm going to go ahead and close this out, and return back to the table. So the attribute tables provide the most important piece of your map. All good maps tell a story about the area that they're focused on, and if the location values are the where part of the story. And the related attributes provide the who, what, when, and why.

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