Convert grids to features

Grids are drawn above map frames in the layout view. However, you can convert the grid to features drawn in the map view for advanced editing or placement scenarios. When you convert a grid to features, the components of the grid are generated as feature classes that are added to the map as layers. Symbols are applied to the layers to match the grid components.


Reference grids and custom grids cannot be converted to features.

When a grid is converted to features, the feature classes listed below are created to store the converted grid components. If a component is not included in the grid, that class is not created.

Feature classFeature class typeInformation



Stores all the labels in the grid as annotation, including interior labels, corner labels, and grid zone designation labels.



Stores the grid interior ticks.



Stores the grid intersection points.



Stores the grid lines.



Creates a polygon from the edge of the grid out past the grid labels. This mask feature can block the basemap or other features on the map, allowing the grid labels to be read clearly. This class is always created, regardless of the grid components.



Stores the neatline for the grid.



Stores the grid ticks.

Grid features can be written to feature classes in a geodatabase only. Multiple grids can be written to the same feature classes in one geodatabase as long as the Grid Name value is unique. If the specified grid name already exists in the geodatabase, those features are overridden. The first grid that is converted determines the coordinate system the features are given. If the grid features are written to a feature dataset in the geodatabase, the grid features are written in that coordinate system.

Convert a grid to features

To convert a grid to features, complete the following steps:

  1. Right-click the grid in the Contents pane. On the context menu, click Convert To Features Grid To Features.
  2. On the Convert Grid to Features dialog box, specify the geodatabase for the output grid features.
  3. Optionally, update the Grid Name value. The Grid Name is added as an attribute to the newly created features, and a definition query is applied to the layer based on this attribute.
  4. Click OK to generate the grid features and turn off the original grid.

    The grid lines and interior components are visible, but ticks and labels do not appear because they are now in the map, beyond the extent of the map view.

  5. Optionally, right-click the map frame in the Contents pane and click Activate Activate Map Frame to activate the map frame. Then zoom out to see the labels and ticks as features on the map.
A definition query on the grid name is applied when the new grid feature layers are added to the map. This means that even if the geodatabase features contain multiple grids, only the grid features for the newly converted grid are displayed in the new layers. To see all the grid features, remove the definition query from each layer.

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