Configure settings for editing

Before you start editing feature data, there are several settings to consider that can make your editing experience easier and more successful. These settings include project units, map unit properties and coordinate systems, the display field layer property, editability settings, and snapping.

This topic is a basic checklist you can use to configure settings before editing.

Open panes for editing

Panes for editing are dockable windows that contain common tools and commands for creating features, modifying features, and viewing and editing feature attributes and related records.

To open panes for editing, complete the following steps:

  1. On the ribbon Edit tab, click Create Create Features and click Modify Modify Features in the Features group.

    The Create Features and Modify Features panes appear.

  2. In the Selection group, click Attributes Attributes.

    The Attributes pane appears.


To open all three panes in a single step, click the ribbon View tab. In the Windows group, click the Reset Panes drop-down menu Reset Panes and choose Reset Panes for Editing.

Add feature data

A feature layer references feature data that is stored in a geodatabase, feature service, or other supported data source. To edit features, add the feature data in the Catalog pane to the active map. Feature templates are automatically generated with default settings.

To add feature data, complete the following steps:

  1. On the ribbon View tab, click Catalog pane Catalog Pane in the Windows group.

    The Contents pane appears.

  2. Click the Project tab.
  3. Expand the Databases folder Databases and find your data.
  4. Drag the feature class to the active map.

    Alternatively, right-click the feature class, and click Add to Current map Add To Current Map.


If the data doesn’t exist, create the feature class.

Review the coordinate system

When you create or modify features, all edits occur in the coordinate system that is assigned to the current map. If the data source is stored in a different coordinate system, the data is synchronously projected on the fly to the map coordinate system.

For most editing operations and most coordinate system transformations, the integrity and accuracy of your edits are maintained. However, depending on the coordinate systems being used, certain editing operations may produce unexpected alignment or accuracy errors.

For best results, set the coordinate system for the current map to match the coordinate system of the layer or layers you are editing.


When a map is set to an unknown coordinate system, you cannot edit the data and spatial extents and distances are reported in unknown units with unk after each value. Also, most analysis operations assume that a map has a properly defined coordinate system and is likely to generate unexpected or unreliable results.

To view the coordinate system, complete the following steps:

  1. On the ribbon View tab, click Contents Contents in the Windows group.

    The Contents pane appears.

  2. Right-click the map name, and click Properties.
  3. Click the Coordinate Systems tab.
  4. Click OK to save the settings and close the dialog box.

Review project unit options

Project unit options specify the units of measurement that are available to map unit property settings and editing tools. The units defined for a project appear in drop-down lists only if they are supported by the active map's coordinate system.

Review the project unit options and confirm that the project contains the units in which you intend to edit or digitize data. Units set as the project default units are used by tools that don't have a unit drop-down menu. For example, on-screen constraints use the project default distance and direction units.

Set map unit settings

Map unit settings specify the display and elevation units in which features are drawn. Display units are location units based on the map's x,y horizontal coordinate system. Elevations units are distance units based on the vertical coordinate system if it exists.

Review the current map unit settings and confirm that they are set to the units in which you intend to edit vertices in a geometry properties table.

Set the layer display field

The display field layer property specifies a field in the source feature class attribute table that is used by settings and editing tools that identify a selected feature. By default, it is set to the first available string field in the feature layer containing the word name in the field name. If the field is null, the OBJECTID field value is shown.

Review this setting and confirm it is set to the field with which you intend to identify features. This field value appears in the selection chip, MapTips, Pop-ups, published map services, and other areas of ArcGIS Pro that identify features.

Enable editing tools and workspaces

Application options for edit sessions configure ArcGIS Pro to either keep editing tools always enabled or always disabled until they are manually enabled on the ribbon Edit tab.

If the editing tools are always enabled, there are no buttons to start or stop an edit session. You can edit all workspaces in a map or a scene that are granted editing privileges at the data source.

If the editing tools are disabled, enable editing on the ribbon Edit tab in the Manage Edits group. Further, if ArcGIS Pro is configured to run single-workspace edit sessions, choose a workspace on the Choose Workspace dialog box.

Review permissions and warnings

Review the editing permissions, warnings, and version status for the maps, layers, and related data in your map.

Set the layer editable and selectable

To edit features on a layer, check the layer check box in the Contents pane to allow the layer to be edited and to be selected. If your edits require snapping, check the layer check box to allow snapping. These layer settings are available in the Contents pane on their respective tabs.


Some tools can be set to edit features without a selection.

Enable snap agents

Turn on snapping and enable a combination of snap agents that help you work efficiently and accurately for the feature data you are editing.

Turn map topology on or off

To avoid unexpected results, turn off map topology and turn it on only when you are actively making topological edits.


Some tools include Features and Edges tabs when map topology or a geodatabase topology is enabled. These tabs allow you to switch between editing feature geometry and topological edges and nodes.