Copying and pasting features

You can copy an existing feature by using the tools on the Standard toolbar. You can copy a feature and paste it into another layer, but it must be the same type of geometry (such as point, line, or polygon) as the one from which you copied. However, you can copy polygons into a line layer.

Attributes will be copied and pasted along with the geometry if the source and target layers are the same or if they are in different layers that have identical schemas. When the source and target layers have different schemas, a copy of the geometry (but not the attributes) of the selected feature is created. If the target feature class or subtype has default values, feature-linked annotation, or connectivity rules defined in a geodatabase, the copy will have the default values and behavior appropriate for the target layer. Attributes without default values will have a null value. You can copy and paste the individual attributes or use the Attribute Transfer tool on the Spatial Adjustment toolbar to pass along the existing attribute values to the new features. Another method is to join the attribute table for the source features to the attribute table for the new features, then use the Field Calculator to append permanently the existing values to the new features.

If you want to copy and paste features while in layout view, make sure you are working with a focused data frame. This way, you'll be able to copy and paste the features inside the data frame rather than copying and pasting the data frame itself. To give a data frame focus, click it and click the Focus Data Frame button on the Layout toolbar, or simply double-click the data frame.


Using Cut and Paste (rather than Copy and Paste) will only transfer geometry. Attributes are not pasted, even if the source and target layers are the same or have identical schema. The appropriate geodatabase behavior and default or null values will be populated in the target layer.

  1. Click the Edit tool Edit Tool on the Editor toolbar.
  2. Click the feature you want to copy. Hold down SHIFT while clicking features to select additional features.
  3. Click the Copy button Copy on the Standard toolbar.
  4. Click the Paste button Paste on the Standard toolbar.
  5. Click the layer in which to store the pasted feature. When copying and pasting features, you choose the layer in which to store the new feature. This allows you to retain the attribute values from the copied feature, rather than having them be overwritten with values from a feature template.
  6. Click OK.
    The feature is pasted on top of the original feature.

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