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Essential table and attribute information vocabulary

The following table includes definitions of commonly used terms relating to tables and attributes. Some of the definitions are for specific parts of a table, such as a field, while other terms refer to table-related functionality, such as a join.

Table and attribute terminology



A set of data elements arranged in rows and columns. Each row represents a single record. Each column represents a field of the record. Rows and columns intersect to form cells, which contain a specific value for one field in a record.


Nonspatial information about a geographic feature in a GIS, usually stored in a table and linked to the feature by a unique identifier. For example, attributes of a river might include its name, length, and sediment load at a gauging station.


A column in a table that stores the values for a single attribute.

Field alias

An alternative name specified for fields that is more descriptive and user-friendly than the actual name. An alias is created and stored at the geodatabase level, which means once applied, it will carry from map to map. By default, aliases are used as the column header, but they can be turned on and off from the table menu Menu.


A row in a table.


Appending the fields of one table to those of another through an attribute or field common to both tables. A join is usually used to attach more attributes to the attribute table of a geographic layer.


An operation that establishes a temporary connection between records in two tables, using a key common to both.

Relationship class

An item in the geodatabase that stores information about a relationship. A relationship class establishes a permanent connection between records in two tables, using a key common to both.


In a geodatabase, a mechanism for enforcing data integrity. Attribute domains define what values are allowed in a field in a feature class or nonspatial attribute table. If the features or nonspatial objects have been grouped into subtypes, different attribute domains can be assigned to each of the subtypes.


In geodatabases, a subset of features in a feature class, or objects in a table, that share the same attributes. For example, the streets in a streets feature class could be categorized into three subtypes: local, collector, and arterial. Creating subtypes can be more efficient than creating many feature classes or tables in a geodatabase, as they are used to help categorize your data.

Query table

A table view containing results from an SQL query. You can create a query table by using the Make Query Table geoprocessing tool.

Table view

The table equivalent of a layer. They are tables stored in memory and are the same as the table view created when a table is added to the Content pane.

Definition query

A request that examines feature or tabular attributes based on user-selected criteria and displays only those features or records that satisfy the criteria.


A system-managed value that uniquely identifies a record or feature.

Selected records

A subset of records that match a desired spatial or attribute selection criteria. You can switch the table view to show only selected records. Additional selection tools are enabled on the table view specifically for interacting with selected records, for example, Zoom To Selection Zoom To Selection.

Selected view

A table view containing only those records currently selected. This is accessed by using the Show Selected Records button Show Selected Records.

Highlighted records

A secondary selection within an existing selection set. Create a new subset from the existing set of selected records in the Show Selected Records view. Highlighted records appear yellow in both the table and the map or scene view.

Table view filters

A way to restrict the data visible in a table based on one of three criteria: Filter By Time, Filter By Range, or Filter By Extent.