Splitting a polygon

To split a polygon, use the Cut Polygons tool, then draw a line across the polygon. The cut operation updates the shape of the existing feature and creates one or more new features using the default attribute values for the feature class.

When you are splitting polygons, make sure your sketch cuts completely through the selected polygon. Edge snapping often helps ensure that the cut operation is completed successfully.

Sketch to be used in splitting the polygon
Result of splitting the polygon: two features are created

When working with geodatabase features, you can set up split policies that control the behavior of an object's attributes when it is split.


You can use the Cut Polygons tool to cut a hole inside a polygon, like a cookie cutter or a donut. So the sketch line snaps to itself, add the Snapping toolbar, click the Snapping menu, then click Snap To Sketch. Then, simply create a line sketch that closes on itself by double-clicking precisely on the first vertex of the sketch to finish it. You now have two polygons: select only the inner polygon and press the DELETE key.

  1. Click the Edit tool Edit Tool on the Editor toolbar.
  2. Click the polygon you want to split.
  3. Click the Cut Polygons tool Cut Polygons Tool on the Editor toolbar.
  4. Click the map to create a line that cuts completely through the original polygon as desired.
  5. To change the shape of the sketch segment, click a construction method type on the Editor toolbar or on the Feature Construction mini toolbar. Segments can be created using a variety of methods—for example, as straight lines, with curves, or traced from the shapes of other features. You can also use keyboard shortcuts or right-click to access a menu of commands to help you place vertices in the sketch.
  6. For example, to create the sketch by tracing a line or polygon edge that overlaps the polygon to cut, click the Trace construction method Trace on the Editor toolbar palette and click and trace along the existing feature. You might use this if you want to split a forest polygon by a stream line that runs through it.
  7. Right-click anywhere on the map and click Finish Sketch.

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