Create and manage subtypes

Using the Subtypes view, you can view and edit existing subtype properties, create subtypes, and delete subtypes.

Learn more about subtypes and their properties.

The Subtypes view shows all existing subtypes for a layer as well as domains and default values for each field in that layer. The Subtypes tab allows you to perform common clipboard edit operations within the grid: copy, paste, cut, and delete. You can use the Create/Manage button Create/Manage to open the Manage Subtypes dialog box. Here, you can create subtypes or manage existing subtypes. While accessing the Subtypes view, you can access other views to manage properties for the same dataset. You can find these in the Data Design group on the Subtypes tab on the ribbon.

The following image shows the creation of subtypes on the Buildings layer. The Manage Subtypes dialog box has been opened, and you can see the following settings: The BLDGTYPE field was chosen as the subtype field, and appropriate codes and descriptions for the new subtypes are added. These subtypes will represent different types of buildings, such as Development, Utility, Marketing, and Security. Now when a building is created, the type of building will be determined by the subtype you choose.

Creating subtypes on the BLDGTYPE field of the Buildings layer

Once a field has subtypes assigned to it, it is symbolized in the data grids of the Subtypes and Fields views with bold type and an asterisk. The BLDGTYPE field in the image above illustrates this. While editing in the Subtypes view, you can explore the grid by clicking in cells, or you can use the Tab or arrow keys to move across rows and up and down columns.

When a dataset with subtypes defined is present in an active map view, you can use subtypes for viewing or editing data.

Open the Subtypes view

You can open the Subtypes view from the following locations:

  • Catalog pane—Right-click the feature class or table you want to open the Subtypes view on and choose Data Design > Subtypes.
  • Contents pane—Right-click a layer or table and choose Data Design > Subtypes.
  • Ribbon—Select a layer in the Contents pane. On the Feature Layer tab set, click the Data tab, and click Subtypes in the Data Design group.

Create subtypes

To create and manage subtypes for a layer in an active map, complete the following steps:

  1. In the Contents pane, select a layer.

    The Feature Layer tab set is now available.

  2. Click the Data tab. In the Data Design group, click the Subtypes button Subtypes.
  3. On the Subtypes tab, click the Create/Manage button Create/Manage.

    The Manage Subtypes dialog box appears.


    You cannot create subtypes if there are no available integer fields to use as the subtype field. If this is the case and you want to create subtypes, open the Fields view and add an integer field on which to base the subtypes.

  4. Select a field to be the subtype field from the Subtype field drop-down list.
  5. In the Code column, enter a code value.

    This code value may already exist in the data, or you can add a new code value. You can use the Discover codes button to search the subtype field for any code values that exist that are not yet defined in the subtypes table.

  6. In the Description column, enter a description for the corresponding code value.
  7. When you finish adding codes and descriptions, click OK to close the Manage Subtypes dialog box.

    The new values are added to the Subtypes view grid.

  8. Review the subtypes, domains applied to each subtype, and the default value, and make any desired modifications.

    If there are domains applied to fields before subtypes are created, the domains are added for each subtype and matching field.

  9. To save all changes made for the dataset, click the Save button Save on the Subtypes tab.

Delete a subtype

You can delete a subtype on the Manage Subtypes dialog box. See the previous task for steps to access the Manage Subtypes dialog box.

  1. On the Manage Subtypes dialog box, select the row representing the subtype code and description that you want to delete.

    You can delete multiple subtypes at once by selecting more than one row using the Ctrl or Shift key.

  2. Press the Delete key or right-click to use the context menu.
  3. Click OK to close the Manage Subtypes dialog box.
  4. To save all changes made for the dataset, click the Save button Save on the Subtypes tab.

Modify subtypes

After you create subtypes for a dataset, you can make additional changes. You can use the Subtypes view to set the default subtype for the field, set a domain or default value for specific fields in a subtype, or reorder the subtypes.

The Subtypes view allows you to apply a domain to a field for each subtype using the drop-down list in the domain column in the subtype. If you want to create a domain for a field, choose Add New Coded Value Domain or Add New Range Domain from the drop-down list, depending on the data type of the field. This opens the Domains view, where you can add the new domain. If you want to clear the domain from a field, select the empty row from the drop-down list.

The following image shows the Subtypes view and the assignment of a domain and default value to the Development subtype for the ACCESSTYPE field. If a domain has been assigned to the field, you can select a default value from the drop-down list of valid domain values, or you can enter a value that is appropriate for the data type of the field.

Assigning the default value of Employees for the ACCESSTYPE field of the Buildings layer for the Development subtype

In the Subtypes view, the Manage Subtypes dialog box provides additional access to manage subtypes. Access this using the Create/Manage button Create/Manage on the Subtypes tab.

The following are examples of tasks that you can complete on the Manage Subtypes dialog box:

  • To set the default subtype for the field, select a subtype from the Default Subtype drop-down list.
  • To add subtypes, type a code and description in the Subtypes table.
  • To delete subtypes, select a single row or multiple rows in the Subtypes table and press the Delete key.
  • To remove the subtype field for the layer or table, choose Clear all subtypes from the Subtype Field drop-down list. This removes all subtype values and removes the field from being set as the subtype field.
  • Sort and reorder subtypes by clicking the Code or Description column header. An arrow appears when you click the header indicating whether the column is sorted by ascending or descending order. If you want to reorder the subtypes, you can select a row and drag it into the desired place. The final order of the rows is reflected in the order of the columns in the Subtypes view.
Once you've completed the edits on the Manage Subtypes dialog box, click OK and click the Save button Save on the Subtypes tab to commit the changes to the dataset.