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InsertCursor establishes a write cursor on a feature class or table. InsertCursor can be used to add new rows.


When using InsertCursor on a point feature class, creating a PointGeometry and setting it to the SHAPE@ token is a comparatively expensive operation. Instead, define the point feature using tokens such as SHAPE@XY, SHAPE@Z, and SHAPE@M for faster, more efficient access.


Opening simultaneous insert or update operations on the same workspace using different cursors requires the start of an edit session.


The arcpy.da cursors (arcpy.da.SearchCursor, arcpy.da.UpdateCursor, and arcpy.da.InsertCursor) were introduced with ArcGIS 10.1 to provide significantly faster performance over the previously existing set of cursor functions (arcpy.SearchCursor, arcpy.UpdateCursor, and arcpy.InsertCursor). The original cursors are provided only for continuing backward compatibility.


InsertCursor (in_table, field_names)
ParameterExplanationData Type

The feature class, layer, table, or table view.


A list (or tuple) of field names. For a single field, you can use a string instead of a list of strings.

Use an asterisk (*) instead of a list of fields if you want to access all fields from the input table (raster and BLOB fields are excluded). However, for faster performance and reliable field order, it is recommended that the list of fields be narrowed to only those that are actually needed.

Raster fields are not supported.

Additional information can be accessed using tokens (such as OID@) in place of field names:

  • SHAPE@XYA tuple of the feature's centroid x,y coordinates.
  • SHAPE@TRUECENTROIDA tuple of the feature's true centroid x,y coordinates.
  • SHAPE@XA double of the feature's x-coordinate.
  • SHAPE@YA double of the feature's y-coordinate.
  • SHAPE@ZA double of the feature's z-coordinate.
  • SHAPE@MA double of the feature's m-value.
  • SHAPE@JSON The esri JSON string representing the geometry.
  • SHAPE@WKBThe well-known binary (WKB) representation for OGC geometry. It provides a portable representation of a geometry value as a contiguous stream of bytes.
  • SHAPE@WKTThe well-known text (WKT) representation for OGC geometry. It provides a portable representation of a geometry value as a text string.
  • SHAPE@A geometry object for the feature.

Polygon, polyline, or multipoint features can only be created using the SHAPE@ token.



PropertyExplanationData Type
(Read Only)

A tuple of field names used by the cursor.

The tuple will include all fields (and tokens) specified by the field_names argument. If the field_names argument is set to *, the fields property will include all fields used by the cursor. When using *, geometry values will be returned in a tuple of the x,y-coordinates (equivalent to the SHAPE@XY token).

The order of the field names on the fields property will be the same as passed in with the field_names argument.


Method Overview

insertRow (row)

Inserts a row into a table.


insertRow (row)
ParameterExplanationData Type

A list or tuple of values. The order of values must be in the same order as specified when creating the cursor.

When updating fields, if the incoming values match the type of field, the values will be cast as necessary. For example, a value of 1.0 to a string field will be added as "1.0", and a value of "25" added to a float field will be added as 25.0.

Return Value
Data TypeExplanation

insertRow returns the objectid of the new row.

Code sample

Use InsertCursor to insert new rows into a table.

import arcpy
import datetime

# Create an insert cursor for a table specifying the fields that will
# have values provided
fields = ['rowid', 'distance', 'CFCC', 'DateInsp']
cursor = arcpy.da.InsertCursor('D:/data/base.gdb/roads_maint', fields)

# Create 25 new rows. Set default values on distance and CFCC code
for x in range(0, 25):
    cursor.insertRow((x, 100, 'A10',

# Delete cursor object
del cursor

Use InsertCursor with the SHAPE@XY token to add point features to a point feature class.

import arcpy

# A list of values that will be used to construct new rows
row_values = [('Anderson', (1409934.4442000017, 1076766.8192000017)),
              ('Andrews', (752000.2489000037, 1128929.8114))]

# Open an InsertCursor
cursor = arcpy.da.InsertCursor('C:/data/texas.gdb/counties',
                               ['NAME', 'SHAPE@XY'])

# Insert new rows that include the county name and a x,y coordinate
#  pair that represents the county center
for row in row_values:

# Delete cursor object
del cursor

Use InsertCursor with the SHAPE@ token to add a new feature using a geometry object.

import arcpy

# Create a polyline geometry
array = arcpy.Array([arcpy.Point(459111.6681, 5010433.1285),
                     arcpy.Point(472516.3818, 5001431.0808),
                     arcpy.Point(477710.8185, 4986587.1063)])
polyline = arcpy.Polyline(array)

# Open an InsertCursor and insert the new geometry
cursor = arcpy.da.InsertCursor('C:/data/texas.gdb/counties', ['SHAPE@'])

# Delete cursor object
del cursor

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